REVIEW ROUND UP: Absolute Hell at the National Theatre

In Features, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Quotes, Reviews by Emma ClarendonLeave a Comment

The reviews are in for the National Theatre’s production of Rodney Ackland’s play, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins (playing until 16 June 2018). Here, Love London Love Culture rounds up what the critics have been saying…

The Guardian★★★ “Ackland’s play emerges more as an enjoyable slice of social history than as a timeless myth.”

The Stage★★★★ “It’s a bold and ambitious play, fascinating and provocative, a kind of living Hogarth portrait of a Blitz-ravaged London living hard on treble whiskeys and rationed eggs and desperately trying to blot out the world and the war.”

The Independent: ★★★ “Ackland’s script is sparkling and witty in a way real drunks rarely are, Joe Hill-Gibbins directs with zip and pace, and the massive cast has both dash and detail.”

Broadway World: ★★★ “Something of an imperfect rediscovery, then, but still resonant in the way it depicts circling patterns of self-destruction and an all-too-human messiness – the cynical, but ultimately empathetic, rejoinder to simplistic nostalgia about the nobility of the past.”

The Telegraph: ★★★ “Depending on your view, then, this is a glass half-empty or half-full revival but not, perhaps surprisingly, an absolute must.”

London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★★ “A stunning production that teems with life and impressionistic drama.”

The Reviews Hub: ★★★1/2 “This 2018 revival, by director Joe Hill-Gibbons, is less shocking because of all the other plays which have dealt with the same or similar subject matter since; but it is still a remarkable spectacle.”

Time Out: ★★★★ “It has something more transcendent to say about the allure of nightlife, the strange bedfellows it breeds, the means by which it exists to alleviate loneliness as much as to facilitate joy. And this is all articulated beautifully Hill-Gibbins’ tenderly atmospheric productions, the grandest and most moving work of his career.”

The Upcoming: ★★ “Effectively a creaky, intermittently bleak 1940s version of Cheers, Rodney Ackland’s drama is one of those plays that suffers from the story of its inception.”

Radio Times: ★★★★ “This 50s play has lost its shock value but the National’s slick production is still powerfu.”

London Theatre1: ★★★ “Best enjoyed as a period play, the lack of political correctness was rather refreshing (for me, anyway), and while it ebbs and flows, there’s some good acting to be enjoyed from a cast doing brilliantly with what they’re given.”

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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 LoveLDNLoveCul.
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Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on RssEmma 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 LoveLDNLoveCul.

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