Very good production with excellent cast. Higgins was superb,and Atwell was the week link. A very interesting play that i hadn't seen before. - Manolis D.
05 Jul 08
Major Barbara left me deeply confused. Shaw argues that the Salvation Army's saving of souls in the East End is of little worth, leaving people still living in poverty, which is hardly surprising from a socialist playwright. However he contrasts that with money being the route to happiness and security provided by a benevolent capitalist, even one as morally repugnant as arms tycoon Andrew Undershaft. Some of this might be true but it is astonishing to hear it propounded by a Fabian like Shaw who also appears to have little comprehension of the misery caused by Undershaft's weapons of mass destruction. The quality of Nick Hytner's production and the performances, particularly those of Simon Russell Beale and Clare Higgins, cannot fully distract from the dissatisfaction with Shaw's apparent message. - David Baxter
26 Jun 08
Great play with a low budget production, which I gathered from the 'platform' nobody wanted to do, It showed!
I love Clare Higgins but the 'Hyacinth Bucket' approach did not work. Simon RB might have been good if he hadn't spent much of the performance (a matinee)trying,successfully, to make the other actors corpse. Hayley Atwell was a lot better than the critics would have you believe. Pretty shoddy for the NT. - joesmith
25 Apr 08
Saw this production yesterday (by the way, it's the second Travelex £10 in the Olivier this year, the first was Much Ado also with Simon Russel Beale).
Anyway, excellent production. Very well paced, good looking set, no directorial conceits detracting from telling the story. Simon Russel Beale gives an excellent & cast against type performance. Agree that Hayley Atwell doesnt have the stage presence or voice but does try throughout. Clare Higgins gives a wonderful & measured performance. A great cast in all other roles. - Ted Heath
24 Apr 08
I'll go and see anything with Clare Higgins and Simon Russell Beale in - even a Shaw play! Again, they don't disappoint. Clare's role isn't anywhere near big enough for her immense talent, but it is good to see her in something other than Greek or American tragedy. The play is less preachy than many Shaw plays, with balanced arguments and some great lines, and has retained some relevance for a 2008 audience. I don't know whether it was me flagging or the production flagging, but I found it lost its way in the second act (a pivotal one in the mission) which seemed lost on the vast Olivier stage. - Gareth James
03 Apr 08
A hugely enjoyable production marred only by the lightweight presence of Hayley Atwell in the title role. She does not have the essential seriousness nor the stage charisma to convince us of her principles. She becomes merely a little irritating. Her shortcomings are made all the more obvious by the superb performances of Simon Russell Beale and Clare Higgins as the Undershafts. I have seen the former in so many NT productions recently that I wonder he does not forget which play he is actually in, but he never fails to impress. And what a clever play this is: it makes one think about one's entrenched moral stands and realise that nothing is ever black or white. Wholly relevant to today. - sc
05 Mar 08
agree with both comments, i was sat in row l of the stalls and at times found it a little difficult to hear some of cast. i saw the production because of simon russell beale and have to say was impressed yet again. agree with I.L.S about the transformation scene to the Undershaft arms factory - absolutely superb. - CB
03 Mar 08
Yet again another excellent production at the National although I have to agree that sometimes it was difficult to hear some of the dialogue. The transformation scence to the Undershaft arms factory in act two was a superb piece of visual theatre. - I.L.S
29 Feb 08
My god Shaw was a prophet and no mistake! Some of the lines could have been written yesterday. I like the wordiness of his plays, wordiness which may wrankle with others but keeps me coming back for more. Of course it all depends on who delivers those words. The Shaw Festival of Canada are fortunate to have a remarkable young actor whom they can call upon - Ben Carlson. I saw him play Adolphus a couple of years back and in his hands, or should I say mouth, one doesn't want the words to stop. Benedict Campbell gave an equally stirling performance as Andrew Undershaft in that production. Now Simon Russell Beale, whom I'd gone off a bit of late after some rather mannered performances and in Much ado.. a rather camp one too never the less excells in this. Clare Higgins always good value did not disappoint either. Overall though it lacked something I can't quite put my finger on - chemistry maybe? The staging is not one of the best I've seen at the NT either or maybe it was to do with not being able to hear the rest of the cast much either? I was in row D centre stalls and had difficulty! At the interval I discovered that many others had the same problem too. Gawd knows what it must have been like further back or in the balcony. They would have missed whole tracts of dialogue I am quite sure! Performances on the Olivier stage need to be miked. It can be done, they've done it before. Just enough to lift the level so that when the actors turn away it's not like someone has turned the volume control down. Come on Nick DO something about it! - rds
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