Janie and I really liked this play/production, well summarised on the Official London Theatre site – click here. It is basically about migration to/through London from the late 16th century until today.
It’s a slightly show-bizzy play, with some of the humour being a little obvious, plus some singing and dancing thrown in. Which doesn’t sound like our sort of play. Yet, there was an interesting enough narrative line and some fabulous performances to keep us interested throughout.
We saw a preview, so were unaware, when we discussed the play/production afterwards, how much it would divide the critics.
- Michael Billington in the Guardian really hated it – a rare two stars – finding it repetitive and perhaps a little disparaging about multi-culturalism – strangely our take on the tone was the opposite – that it was warm-hearted delight in multi-culturalism;
- Conversely, Susannah Clapp in the Observer concurred with our take on the play – a bit ibvious but delightful fun;
- Michael Coveney in the Independent was equivocal about it – “oddly disjointed but always enjoyable”;
- Nicholas De Jongh in the Standard hated it – “I have never had a more uncomfortable or unpleasant experience at the National Theatre”;
- Andrew Billen in the New Statesman said ” Uncomfortably funny…mixes difficult questions with great one-liners;
- Charles Spencer in The Telegraph gave it four stars and described it as a topical treat.
Quite a mixture of opinions. Mark Espiner’s analysis of the reviews from the Guardian might help – click here.
A very memorable show for me, which is an element of praise indeed. Olivia Coleman and Michelle Terry were standout performances among many good ones.
I wonder how the piece would come across to me now, in our Brexity times (writing in April 2017) – would my sense of humour still be in tune with it, or should I say would the play’s sense of humour now be in tune with mine?