Review Round-Ups

How good was John Malkovich's Good Canary?

The Oscar-nominated actor’s production opened at the Rose Theatre, Kingston last night

Harry Lloyd (Jack) and Freya Mavor (Annie)
Harry Lloyd (Jack) and Freya Mavor (Annie)
© Mark Douet

Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"What is undoubtedly true is that [Malkovich] directs this story of a successful first time novelist and his love for his amphetamine-popping, bulimic wife absolutely beautifully."

"On Pierre-François Limbosch's set, sumptuous, vividly coloured projections create New York scenes that slide easily into view, changing with dreamlike ease."

"Harry Lloyd, familiar from Game of Thrones and Wolf Hall, is equally effective as Jack, striving to save her by the sheer force of love. But not a single cast member puts a foot wrong; they are exceptional."

"It's disappointing to see so much talent lavished on a work that never fulfils its promise; Malkovich should direct something different next."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard


"Harry Lloyd’s Jack is nicely observed — grounded and sensitive, yet ambitious. Malkovich draws bright support from Ilan Goodman as an angsty drug dealer and Steve John Shepherd as Jack’s spivvy editor Charlie."

"It’s 23-year-old Freya Mavor, once the bitchy queen bee in E4’s Skins, who makes an indelible impression as self-destructive Annie… It’s a performance with a bracing air of wildness."

"Pierre-François Limbosch’s design, with its heavy use of screens, occasionally makes this look like a film project that ended up on stage by accident."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


"While it is clever and adroit, I suspect I shall remember the piece more for its dazzling staging than for what it actually says."

"Malkovich’s staging, however, is immaculate. The designs by Pierre-François Limbosch are a thing of beauty: they use projections of New York streets and cafes with painterly precision."

"It is worth seeing for Mavor’s performance and the ruthless clarity of Malkovich’s direction."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"It’s far more impressive, visually, than many West End shows – and Malkovich coaxes fine performances from his cast, even if there’s some gabbling at the start."

"Rising star Lloyd lends the dutiful Jack a plausibility and watchability this ploddy type doesn’t quite deserve and the super-skinny Mavor, bound to go far, is needle-sharp as the spiky Annie."

"Could this be a big hit in town? Yes, but only if Malkovich elbows his way into the ensemble."

Theo Bosanquet, Time Out


"[Zach] Helm, who has never presented the play in English before (its initial productions were in French and Spanish), inserts a twist that cleverly toys with our initial expectations. "

"You simply can’t take your eyes off [Freya Mavor] as she skittishly dominates every scene, building to a viscerally shattering climax. It’s perhaps too obvious to draw an analogy with Denise Gough’s stunning portrayal of addiction in People, Places and Things, but the comparison is valid."

"Crucially, like many actor-directors, he coaxes the best out of his young leads, who have clearly responded to his full-throttle approach to the craft."

Paul Vale, The Stage


"Through the haze of drug use, Mavor underpins Annie with an encroaching vulnerability, as if getting sober will really unleash her demons."

"Malkovich's stamp is set firmly on the production, his direction veering from the sublime to the intrusive. "

"While it's stylishly put together, there are unsatisfying gaps in his narrative – it leaves too many questions unanswered."