Monday, 14 November 2011

13 - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
National Theatre, London
Was Peen keen?

Mike Bartlett’s new writing takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to ask a whole load of obvious questions; a wildly ambitious play that attempts to discuss the war on Iran, recent London riots, religion, funding cuts and student tuition fees – all, of course, with a female Prime Minister. The relation to today’s audience is admirable; though a little too palpable.

Great performances are few and far apart. Danny Webb (Stephen) dominated the huge auditorium playing opposite a fantastic Geraldine James as Ruth, the Prime Minister. Davood Ghadami also manages to grab the audience and place them entirely in the palm of his hand; it’s just a shame we’re left waiting for him to use it to his advantage. There is also Helen Ryan (Edith); the token Gran who swears a lot, offering the much needed comedic relief. She also shows her musical talents in a rendition of a song that was previously thrown away in a messy, meaningless ‘dance’.

Watching this play feels kind of like having a case book of the last 2 years of your life read out to you, with some arm gestures and shouting, very swift set changes and lighting design that doesn’t allow your attention to be placed anywhere other than where the director, Thea Sharrock, intended: a failing play brought to life by the Olivier’s abilities.
            Dialogue that shouldn’t make us laugh, does, and we’re never mesmerised until the final 5 minutes worth of inspiring, spine-chilling and nerve-wrecking text that makes it seem like Bartlett not only had too much on his mind and couldn’t quite come to a decision about what he thought; he also developed the play around the finishing speech. One thought of his however, is prevalent: Britain is ugly. 

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