Unfortunately, this one didn’t really do the business for us.
I said to Janie at the interval, “if this play manages to pull together all of its big and disparate themes in the second half, we’re in for one cracker of a second half.” I didn’t think it would. It didn’t.
Strangely, I don’t think we’d ever seen a Christopher Shinn play before. I say strangely, because he has had so many of his works performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, which we frequent a lot. Perhaps the subject matter has never appealed to us before.
This sounded interesting from the Almeida blurb and indeed it was interesting subject matter. Too much of it; violence in society, sexual politics, religion, workers’ increasing sense of powerlessness…
…but the performances were all very good. They seemed, to us, wasted on this play.
Tellingly, the Almeida resource does not link to reviews, so here are a few links:
- Paul Taylor in the Independent found the play a disappointment, but he loved Ben Whishaw;
- Kate Kellaway in The Observer gave it four stars and described it as “admirably ambitious”;
- Michael Billington in The Guardian was less sure, finding the plays response to “big urgent questions” as “cryptically simplistic“;
- Henry Hitchings in The Standard was even harsher, with two stars and the strap line “Artificially Intelligent”.
To help rescue our evening, we ran into Jilly Black sitting, with a friend, a few rows behind us. We chatted with them after the show; indeed Janie dropped them at Baker Street giving us quite a bit of very pleasant post show chat time.
It is not very often that we bemoan the extra few minutes journey time to the Almeida; normally that place is well worth the extra few minutes each way, but this piece left us warm to the interesting topics but decidedly cold to the play,