Joe Wright is a hugely successful and respected film director but this is his first major theatrical production and there are signs that he is trying to hard to impress. It is an amusing play but no more than that and nicely points out the contrast between the Victorian hammy style of acting and a more naturalistic style, rather like Red Velvet at the Tricycle. That does not mean though that every character, including the non-thespians, should be so ripe and Wright has failed to realise that it would be far funnier in moderation and in context. It also plods along at a leaden pace at times and I was longing for it to reach its inevitable conclusion. Some of the cast rise above these shortcomings: Maggie Steed just about manages to avoid going completely over the top; Ron Cook is excellent in the dual roles of the fiercesome Vice Chancellor and a theatrical landlady and lovely Susannah Fielding is enchanting as a questionably upmarket actress turned producer. Unfortunately, once again, this is a fairly ordinary production from the Donmar where the extraordinary used to be the norm. - David Baxter
12 Apr 13
A perfectly pleasant & enjoyable evening of theatre.
There are some funny lines & scenes, often involving the excellent Ron Cook who we see both as the landlady Mrs Mossop and later as Sir William Gower, two very contrasting characters. Maggie Steed is also excellent in the scenes she appears in. The whist scene, in particular is great fun.
The other parts are rather hit and miss but I really liked Daniel Kaluuya, definitely an actor to watch.
- Paul Wallis
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