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Review Round-Ups

Review Round-up: Critics persuaded by Pulitzer-winning Disgraced?

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Ayad Akhtar's new Pulitzer winning play Disgraced made its UK premiere on Wednesday night (22 May 2013) at the Bush Theatre.

Following runs at New York's Lincoln Centre and Chicago's American Theater Company, Disgraced centres on the ethnic tensions that result from a dinner party, hosted by Amir Kapoor in his New York apartment.

With a cast including Hari Dhillon, Kirsty Bushell and Sara Powell, Disgraced runs at the Bush Theatre until 31 May 2013.

Theo BosanquetWhatsonstage★★★★ ...Akhtar scripts a near-perfect four-way conflict... it's deeply visceral, devastatingly effective, and shockingly believable. Nadia Fall's production does not win on all fronts. The sightlines are frankly appalling; every time the characters sat down I struggled to see them... the details of the settings and costumes feel rather clumsily thought-through...  But the performances - particularly of Dhillon and Bushell - are pitch-perfect... All in all a highly recommended and thought-provoking evening that could well provide the Bush's artistic director Madani Younis with his first West End transfer. Here's hoping anyway.

Michael Billington Guardian ★★★★ ...It's not perfect, but it's a tough, compelling play... I think the playwright overplays his hand... But the play's occasional lapses are camouflaged in a superb production by Nadia Fall... Fall astutely balances the play's symmetrical neatness with a wealth of character detail, and the acting is impeccable. Hari Dhillon as Amir, a smooth man in Charvet shirts, disintegrates with utter conviction, and Kirsty Bushell is outstanding as Emily, charting every stage of her conflict between devotion and independence. Nigel Whitmey as the art curator, Sara Powell as his order-loving wife and Danny Ashok as Amir's intransigent nephew also adorn a production that arrives with horrific timeliness.

Dominic Cavendish Daily Telegraph ★★★★ ...a very accomplished UK premiere from director Nadia Fall... You can easily quibble with the play's dramatic shortcomings and the deficiencies of the supporting characterisations but you can't quarrel with the intelligent, thought-provoking thrust of this crisply entertaining evening... There are better pieces of writing in London theatre at the moment, but few that possess this essential necessity, urgency and relevance. If it's only a step in the right direction towards a full and frank discussion about issues we'd rather went away or be brushed under the carpet, then, by God, at least it's a step.

Henry Hitchings Evening Standard ★★★★

Nadia Fall's production is absorbing, even if it suffers from excessively long and portentous scene changes... Kirsty Bushell does a fine job of capturing Emily's liberalism and  lithe appeal, and there's peppy, persuasive work from Sara Powell and Nigel Whitmey, while Danny Ashok makes the most of a smallish part as Amir's nephew. But the star is Hari Dhillon, once a staple of Holby City and here thrillingly good as Amir. Disgraced calls to mind David Mamet at his most rivetingly ruthless. The plot feels a touch contrived, and at least one revelation seems gratuitous. Yet at the play's heart are about 20 minutes of searing action, and Akhtar's fluent command of dialogue is impressive.

Dominic MaxwellThe Times★★★★

…if Disgraced is a shade too schematic to be a truly great play, it makes for a riveting 90 minutes that zing with provocation, wit and understanding… the brilliance of the script… is the way Akhtar creates a nuanced human drama that is acute on the intimate interchanges of coupledom as well as the big issues that will affect their lives. He is a master craftsman… Hari Dhillon nails the lawyerly logic and charm of Amir… Kirsty Bushell's Emily exudes both principle and privilege, while Sara Powell's Jory jocularly punctures the pretensions of Nigel Whitmey's poised Isaac. Danny Ashok as Amir's nephew Hussein, who has changed his name to Abe, rounds out a first-rate cast in an excitingly intelligent play.


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