Review Round-Ups

A Number scores high with critics

Father and son duo impress in this Caryl Churchill revival

Lex Shrapnel and John Shrapnel in A Number
Lex Shrapnel and John Shrapnel in A Number
© Johan Persson

Ben Hewis, WhatsOnStage


"There are strong performances from both Shrapnels, most notably from Lex who succeeds in presenting three versions of essentially the same person (or is it?) without resorting to hackneyed mannerisms."

"The boxed-in set creates the voyeuristic feeling of watching a scientific experiment gone wrong"

"Whilst Churchill's rapid-fire text means the pace of the piece never drops, at 50 minutes long Michael Longhurst's production neither has time to inform nor develop the emotions and psychological states of the characters beyond surface level."

Michael Billington, Guardian


"It gives us a sense that we are eavesdropping on a laboratory experiment, and allows for multiple reflections of the two actors, but it also works against the play’s tactile power"

"Lex Shrapnel also marks the differences between the three sons with deft brilliance: he is all spiky menace as the first, quiet resentment as the second and bland ordinariness as one of 20 cloned copies."

"Churchill’s 55-minute play raises profound questions about identity."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times


"It’s as if the designer, Tom Scutt, is putting us all under the microscope."

"John, who possesses one of the most smoothly plausible voices in the land, is perfect casting as the father figure from whom we expect explanations."

"Longhurst’s experiment succeeds in conveying a strong idea of characters who are always reflecting but rarely connecting."

Jane Shilling, Daily Telegraph


"John and Lex Shrapnel perform Churchill’s fractured, stuttering dialogue at a ferocious pitch of virtuoso intensity"

"the final scene raises a whole new set of questions about the role of nature versus nurture in forming identity."

"The highly wrought writing veers at times towards the mannered, leaving a faint sense that the style of Churchill’s play exceeds its substance, and the issue of cloning has lost its urgency"

Natasha Tripney, The Stage


"the casting adds another layer to what is an already idea-rich piece."

"The play, while an intellectual exercise on some levels, riffs pretty thrillingly on ideas of parenthood, genetics and inheritance; it cuts to the quick about what it means to be a father, a parent – to reproduce."

"both Shrapnels do a superb job with the material, and it’s particularly fascinating to watch the way Lex creates a series of iterations of the son – the same man, but not the same at all."

A Number runs at the Young Vic until 15 August 2015.