REVIEW ROUND-UP: Goats at the Royal Court Theatre

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Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Hamish Pirie’s production of Goats, the new play by Liwaa Yazji, which runs at the Royal Court Theatre until 30 December 2017.

In a small town in Syria, soldiers are celebrated as heroes and grieving families are nourished on propaganda. As the coffins pile up, the local party leader decides on a radical compensation scheme: a goat for each son martyred.

The Independent: ★★★ “Pirie has his work cut out sustaining the energy levels, despite the urgency of the subject matter. His uneven production may reinforce the impression that inside this talented but flabby and over-deliberate play, there’s a leaner and more deadly piece waiting to get out.”

Variety: “It’s a busy production, but it’s a busy play and its problems stem from Yazji’s urge to document the many strange details of Syria.”

The Stage: ★★★ “Goats has the potential to be a fascinating and illuminating piece but too often it’s clunky and confusing.”

Culture Whisper: ★★★ “The play is not perfect, but it’s definitely thought-provoking.”

The Guardian: ★★★ “the play is like a mosaic in which the glittering individual pieces obscure the big picture.”

Everything Theatre: ★★ “I admire Hamish Pirie’s audacity in bringing an animal known for its stubbornness on stage, but the four-legged actors managed to upstage the entire performance.”

The FT: ★★★ “The play is quite dense and overlong and there is a problem with audibility in places. But it’s a painful and original piece about the terrible price of conflict and oppression.”

The Upcoming: ★★ “Yazji has made Goats so readily palatable for those who aren’t well versed in the Syrian conflict that the play has lost whatever unique insight got it commissioned in the first place.”

London Box Office: ★★★ “the play presents a shocking and dispiriting exploration of the hapless and hopeless inhabitants of a war zone, which in itself is a commendable and weighty objective. As a piece of informative theatre however, it is neither particularly surprising, revelatory or especially entertaining.”

British Theatre.com: ★★ “There is humour certainly in Yazji’s script; the sort that makes you exhale out of your nose. However, there’s something seriously wrong with a production when the most present, captivating performances come from livestock.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Yet the surreal staging and animal casting are a darkly humorous lens through which to examine the messy, multi-sided, multistoried conflict that is the Syrian Civil War.”

Time Out: ★★★ “it’s a powerful, empathetic, often funny window into a country most of us have little real understanding of.”

Mature Times: “The play is diffuse and a mess; it needs more work. What Liwaa Yazji has to say would be far better served in a documentary.”

Evening Standard: *** “Hamish Pirie’s production boasts some fine performances, most notably from Isabella Nefar as a gleaming-eyed young idealist. Does this play bring us any closer to understanding the fearful Syrian situation? Unfortunately not.”

Broadway World: ★★ “Goats is an incredibly detailed investigation into violence and terror, with Yazji exploring how we constantly normalise the surreal. A bleak and humorous story of propaganda, grief and struggle, the play introduces the audience to a world they may not be familiar with.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “Dialogue is stilted, scenes riven with longueurs of inaction, the clarity of what should be devastating storytelling hampered by unnecessary detours into random subplots and technological interventions which ultimately add little.”

Theatre Fullstop: “if it’s truth we’re after this play is as chaotic as it is vital, but Hamish Pirie’s direction seems to flounder and distract from the content of the piece.”

London Theatre1: ★★★★ “It is hilariously funny and amazingly shocking in equal measure and will leave the audience thinking about their own liberal left leaning trendy ideas about what is considered acceptable and what is not in a modern society.”

The Play’s The Thing: “the Royal Court’s latest experiment is a tonally-confused take on the Syrian conflict, fake news, and livestock management.”

Emma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at theatre_emma.
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Emma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at theatre_emma.