The play follows legendary actor-manager Harley Granville Barker's estrangement from theatre, as he exiles himself to Williamstown, Massachusetts during World War I.
Directed by Roger Michell, Ben Chaplin plays the role of Granville Barker, alongisde a cast that includes Jemma Redgrave, Tara Fitzgerald, William French, Andrew Havill, Louis Hilyer and Jason Watkins.
The production continues on the Hampstead's Main Stage until 7 April 2012.
"What is in effect a sober conversation piece with insider historical information is presented with stark clarity in Roger Michell’s admirably cast production ... But the flame of the play, and of Ben Chaplin’s performance, burns quite low, ending in an almost embarrassingly unremarkable Mummers Play in the garden ... Granville Barker has rediscovered that theatre matters, but this is all talk, not show, and it’s a struggle to remain interested for the uninterrupted 105 minutes’ playing time. Still, it’s very good to see Chaplin on the stage again. Jemma Redgrave as the widow manageress, Henry’s sister, emotes quietly in the background and Tara Fitzgerald as a flighty lecturer impresses once again with her ability to inhabit any period or indeed costume without seeming false or unnatural. As a testament to Granville Barker, the play is obviously positive but also too knowing for an audience unaware of his then radical, now taken-for-granted, approach to Shakespeare."
"Michell once again turns up trumps with a production exquisitely attuned to the Chekhovian mix of rueful melancholy and sharp-eyed objectivity about the absurd ... This new work almost combines elements from its two predecessors in that it is an agonising comedy ... Radiating languid irony and emotional reserve, Ben Chaplin is superb in the role of protagonist ... Jason Watkins's endearing Frank Spraight ... Sunk in sardonic disillusion, Barker is in a personal and professional limb ... It boasts some lovely performances (especially from Jemma Redgrave and Tara Fitzgerald). But the echoes of the Shakespeare feel contrived; the presentation of Barker through his effect on a campus squabble feels faintly too non-momentous; and the happy-ish Mummers' Play ending unearned."