REVIEW ROUND–UP: The Rubenstein Kiss at Southwark Playhouse

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The award-winning play from James Phillips about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who allegedly passed US atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, is currently having its first London revival at the Southwark Playhouse. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews.

The Guardian★★ “As a study of the motivations that lead ordinary people to leak state secrets, it brings to mind Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, and begs the question: are these figures idealists who dare to make a stand or is it “treachery” guided by something more self-serving? But the play does not complicate this question enough or tease out its implications.”

Londonist: ★★★ “Ruby Bentall is a wonderful Esther Rubenstein, giving her a combination of homeliness and strength, as both doting wife and unrepentant idealist.”

British Theatre.com: ★★★★ “Though by no means subtle, this is a finely crafted production, assisted by a first-rate cast and suitable setting. Hugely affecting, The Rubenstein Kiss remains an excellent example of modern drama in this thoroughly human revival.”

Stage Review: ★★★★ “Ruby Bentall gives a blistering performance as Esther, both as a supportive wife and imprisoned spy. She’s courageous, brave and defiant with Bentall delivering an equally bold and fervid turn.”

Broadway World: ★★★ “The Rubenstein Kiss feels weighty but becomes an electric epic anyway.”

London Theatre1: ★★★★ “There are ebbs and flows but overall, it’s a poignant and engaging production.”

HayleySprout.com: ★★★★ “If you’re looking for a play to really sink your teeth into, head down to the Southwark Playhouse and go see this fantastic, first-rate revival.”

The Reviews Hub: ★★ “If we felt more for the characters and understood their motivation, or if the production had taken a firm position of the Rubensteins’ innocence then it would have given the show more drive. As it is it’s neither an exciting Cold War spy-thriller or a story of love and sacrifice, it is, in fact, just a very long night.”

Theatre Cat: “In that first act the growing relationship of the young people drags a bit, and it is only after the interval that we get an electric, eloquent, Milleresque piece I would kick myself to have missed.”

The Upcoming: ★★★ “The Rubenstein Kiss is good, maybe even very good, and it certainly provides an enjoyable evening. But, ultimately, the complexity of thought within it makes it forgettable.”

West End Wilma: ★★★★ “Given the length of the play (165 minutes including interval) the relatively dry, historic nature of the story being told, and the fact that the fate of the main characters is detailed in the first scene, this could have been a challenging evening, but the play is absolutely riveting.”

Theatre World: “The story is so beautifully written and compellingly told in terms of a father fighting for what he believes in – regardless of the inevitable consequences – as the Rubensteins’ obduracy inches them ever closer to the electric chair.”

The Spy in the Stalls: ★★★★★ “This production grips throughout, and while being a truly enthralling history lesson, it is essentially a haunting, poignant, sublimely crafted and superbly acted piece of theatre.”

Pocket Size Theatre: ★★★ “This is overall a strong production which reminds us of how we are all connected to each other, even those who have passed. It also poses the question of the importance of knowing the whole truth about those who are no longer here.”

British Theatre Guide: “FBI interrogator Paul Cramer (Stephen Billington), tall, gently spoken but unflinching, comes to respect the Rubensteins—his head honcho Hoover calls him “Paul the convert”—but is the evidence he produces for the Matthew and Anna convincing? The play doesn’t definitively settle the argument and it is as much about belief, love and personal betrayal as a possible miscarriage of justice.”

ReviewsGate: ★★★★ “This revival is both timely and powerful – and whatever the real spies deserved it was surely not the electric chair.”

The Gizzle Review: ★★ “The performances are accomplished. In particular, Ruby Bentall brings inner-strength to Esther Rubenstein, proving the character to be the more courageous of the central couple. Elsewhere Sean Rigby brings some much needed humour as David Girshfeld, and Dario Coates and Katie Eldred have great chemistry in the 70s storyline.”

The Rubenstein Kiss continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse until 13 April 2019.

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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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