The final production in the Globe's Young Hearts season (See News, 12 Feb 2009), it's helmed by artistic director Dominic Dromgoole and celebrates the life and work of Thomas Paine in the year that marks the 200th anniversary of the English radical’s death.
John Light, whose stage credits include Julius Caesar and The Tempest for the RSC and Apologia at the Bush, leads the 20-strong cast as Thomas Paine. Tim Shortall designs a production that features music by Academy Award winning composer Stephen Warbeck.
Overnight and weekend critics were divided. On the pro side, the Guardian's Michael Billington writes that Griffiths “has the priceless ability to show the power of Paine's ideas and to make history come alive”. On the con side, Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard found the play “dramatically stunted”, echoing the sentiments of several of his colleagues. Length and density were issues for many, with Whatsonstage.com's Maxwell Cooter suggesting A New World would work better as a “mini-series” rather than a play. Most were agreed however that despite any structural flaws, the play certainly provides a timely celebration of our “greatest exile”.