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Review round-up: Did Andrew Scott reign supreme in Three Kings?

The actor appeared in the live-streamed production from the Old Vic stage

Andrew Scott
© Manuel Harlan

Over the last few days Andrew Scott has performed in a live scratch performance of Stephen Beresford's Three Kings, and the reviews are in! Suffice it to say that we're desperate for the show to return, either live in-person or through another virtual production.


Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage

★★★★★

"What an actor Andrew Scott is! And what a privilege and pleasure it is to watch him in his pomp, in a monologue written especially for him by Stephen Beresford, impeccable in the way he mines every word and thought for each ounce of feeling, humour, and meaning."

"It's Scott who, with mercurial intelligence, makes it all work, presenting us with the sardonic carapace of a man infinitely damaged by his father's neglect, but also letting us see the pain and uncertainty underneath, finding moments of theatrical flourish (an elaborate bow, a painful phone conversation) but also intervals of stillness and quiet that are almost unbearable to watch. He's brilliant too at catching the other characters in the story: a kindly neighbour, a bitter ex-girlfriend, his father's last love, his tragic mother. It's a tour de force of the best kind, one that creates empathy and understanding."


Catherine Love, The Guardian

★★★★

"Scott – for whom the script was written – is a transfixing presence on the screen. Shifting between Patrick at different stages of his life and his estranged, swaggering father, Scott's performance shows us the forces that ricochet down the generations, from little gestures that pass from father to son to the enduring pain of abandonment."

"As the play goes on, our view of him fragments into different shots, just as his performance suggests a man splintering into pieces. At the same time, while it's optimised for transmission via the contemporary stage of Zoom, there is something surprisingly old-fashioned about Beresford's play, with its careful structure and self-contained storytelling."


Dominic Cavendish. The Telegraph

★★★★

"The piece, staged by Matthew Warchus (who last worked with him here on Noel Coward's Present Laughter and directed him in Beresford's film Pride too), may have a rough look to it – Scott is in grey jeans and green top – but it expertly combines two media to show Scott's theatrical stamina and high-definition expressiveness.

"Three Kings happens to be the title of a 1999 Hollywood war comedy starring George Clooney – and it raises thoughts of the biblical Magi. But here it refers to a pub, or ‘hotel lobby' trick recalled by Scott's protagonist, Patrick. We initially see three pound-coins in a row, and the character takes us back to a moment of rare encounter between his eight-year-old self and his father. Without being heavy-handed, Scott flips between these two personae - a face of wariness but also youthful appreciation in the boy, and lordly, beady-eyed and even menacing disdain in the father, who's like something out of Pinter."


Andrew Scott
© Manuel Harlan


Clive Davis, The Times

★★★

"The writing was crisp and sardonic. Scott gave each word its full weight, his expressions oscillating from the son's wounded, yearning glances to the languid, faux-aristocratic gestures of a father who, metaphorically anyway, spends most of his life in a Jermyn Street smoking jacket.

"Warchus used split screens to amplify the aura of lost, fractured souls, while the sound effects included the background noise of Mediterranean crickets and some oddly brassy music that occasionally signalled scene changes. Scott didn't need much help, to be honest. His eyes, dark and empty, burnt through the screen."


Jesse Green, New York Times

"Yes, the coin metaphor is heavy-handed: Patrick will spend his life seeking and avoiding contact and engagement. But Scott nevertheless makes the scene expressive, investing fully in the boy's need to please and also, switching voice, stance and tone, in the father's need to dominate. Even without listening you can tell which character is which, by the position of Scott's eyes and by the arc of his hands as they test or fondle the air.

"Yet you want to listen; until it becomes heartbreaking, Beresford's script is nasty fun. As Patrick grows up, and his father grows more erratic, their few interactions become venomous and mutually pathetic. Even worse are their non-interactions, when Patrick discovers through others — a fixer, a dumped wife, another guy named Patrick he meets in a pub — just how little someone can care for his offspring."


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