REVIEW ROUND-UP: The Philanthropist at Trafalgar Studios

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Simon Callow directs Matt Berry, Simon Bird, Lily Cole, Charlotte Ritchie, Tom Rosenthal in this revival of Christopher Hampton’s play. But what have critics been making of the production? 

The Stage: “The actors struggle to connect with one another in any meaningful way, and, despite their backgrounds in television comedy, they drain the play of its absurdist energy as well as its intelligence and poignancy.”

The Independent: “Callow certainly brings a new kind energy to the proceedings by assembling a cast more familiar to the public from television.”

The Telegraph: “overall the production works like a bleakly amusing charm and, for those who’ve not seen the play before, it’s a treat.”

Broadway World: “Callow’s production never fully justifies the necessity of revisiting this material, nor does he have a sure handle on its tricky combination of social lampooning, farce, knowing writerly deconstruction and real poignancy.”

Time Out: “The director has assembled the perfect cast for a funny, youth-orientated play – but that’s not what ‘The Philanthropist’ is. Hardcore Berry fans might consider it, but otherwise it’s a desperate slog of an evening.”

The Guardian: ” Despite the best efforts of Simon Callow as director, however, the relative theatrical inexperience of the cast is clear and deprives the play of emotional texture.”

Evening Standard: “The result is two very long hours, stilted and lacking theatrical vitality. As joke after joke fails to land the play ends up seeming thin, dated and tedious. The whole venture feels misconceived.”

Beyond the Joke: “There are good lines of course and some laughs, but this feels badly miscast.”

Theatre Cat: “as a period piece, it rang true; and Bird’s and Cole’s performances in particular left me convinced and rather sorrowful. It’s worth bringing back.”

Mature Times: “The play is much better than the acting which is very superficial.”

The Philanthropist will play at the Trafalgar Studios until the 22nd July.

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.