Rory Kinnear takes the title role in Young Marx, Nicholas Hytner’s inaugural production at London’s new large-scale venue, the Bridge Theatre, where it runs until 31 December 2017. Here Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for the comedy, co-written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman.
1850, and Europe’s most feared terrorist is hiding in Dean Street, Soho. Broke, restless and horny, the thirty-two-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit, and child-like emotional illiteracy. Creditors, spies, rival revolutionary factions and prospective seducers of his beautiful wife all circle like vultures. His writing blocked, his marriage dying, his friend Engels in despair at his wasted genius, his only hope is a job on the railway. But there’s still no one in the capital who can show you a better night on the piss than Karl Heinrich Marx.
Evening Standard: ★★★★ “Confident and luxuriously cast, it’s populist entertainment with a gently subversive undercurrent. Not top marx, then, but high marx.”
Variety: “Richard Bean and Clive Coleman’s screwball comedy about socialism’s founding father only half succeeds. Great in theory, you might say; less so in practice.”
The Arts Desk: “As a piece of biography, Young Marx is wise, but unexceptional; as a farce, it is fast-moving, but over-complicated.”
The Stage: ★★★ “While those of a cynical bent might raise an eyebrow at the juxtaposition of the life of a revolutionary socialist with the launch of London’s newest commercial venue, what’s most notable is how dramatically underpowered this opening effort is.”
The Guardian: ★★★ “Bean and Coleman, in underplaying the hero’s piercing analysis of capitalist contradiction, had not quite given us the full Marx.”
The Independent: ★★★★ “An appetite-whetting start for a bold, risky venture that has its priorities right and deserves success. ”
The Telegraph: ★★★★ “The play itself? In some ways, it’s a victim not so much of hyper-inflated anticipation and the distracting novelty of the surroundings as its determination to give us the best time possible.”
Time Out: ★★★ “It’s a big, confident, entertaining signifier that Hytner is back and the Bridge is open for business. It’s opium for the masses – but it’s good opium.”
Exeunt Magazine: “The play is good, more than enjoyable, but the extraordinary achievement here is what that play is housed in. The fruits of Hytner and Starr’s labours, their monument christened with a subtle and comic manifesto.”
The Times: ★★★★ “A seriously clever comedy stuffed with cheeky anachronisms and shrewd truths about sex, love, money and politics.”
The Upcoming: ★★ “Obviously, it would be ridiculous to judge a theatre too harshly by its very first production; and one imagines Young Marx is exactly the kind of (ostensibly) people-pleasing show Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr wanted. It’s just so achingly un-bold – not to mention largely white and male – that the Bridge already feels like an extension of the West End rather than an exciting new prospect.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★ “Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr’s latest venture the Bridge Theatre, which is located on the picturesque riverside by Tower Bridge, proves the rude health theatre in the capital is in, and the appetite for more.”
Theatre Cat: ★★★★ “The play sometimes felt a bit disconnected, between historic politics and the broad larking. But its revolutionary paupers got their applause from the not-at-all broke first night crowd.
Metro: ★★★★ “Director Nicholas Hytner’s choice of a comedy broadly celebrating Marx brings an edge of irony to his sleek new commercial 900-seat venue.”
Express: ★★★ “In spite of efforts by the cast, the issue of whether revolutionary ideology takes precedence over decent human behaviour is gestural.”
British Theatre Guide: “Richard Bean has written funnier plays and the politics tend to take second place behind the hijinks, but Young Marx is most entertaining and should prove a good draw, as is a first chance to see the infinitely adaptable Bridge Theatre.”
Live Theatre UK: ★★ “Indeed, if there is one word to describe Young Marx it is this: unmemorable. A pedestrian production of a pedestrian play marked by mostly pedestrian performances.”