On the surface Albion may be a play about a woman restoring a garden, but once you dig beneath the topsoil this play is about a complicated, nostalgic and divided society, struggling to reason with its national identity.
Albion is a meaty, emotional and funny play with a superb Victoria Hamilton drawing out the complexity of Audrey, even if you don’t feel sorry for her.
The Almeida Theatre has announced the full cast for its revival of Mike Bartlett’s Albion, directed by Rupert Goold, running from 3-29 February 2020 (press night is 5 February) following the play’s acclaimed run in 2017.
Rupert Goold’s previous, James Graham’s Ink, went on to enjoy its present run in the West End. For sheer entertainment value, I’ll be amazed if Mike Bartlett’s stirring eulogy for a disappearing but not completely gone England and Englishness doesn’t go the same way.
Albion begins with Audrey, played with indefatigable energy by Victoria Hamilton, in the garden of her deceased uncle’s family home, deep in the English countryside. She has bought the property, which boasts a historic 1920s garden, now much overgrown, which a First World War veteran once formed into a pastoral paradise fit for heroes.
Both Audrey and Anna’s behaviour hover often on the edge of psychological incredibility – especially if you actually are a woman – but then so have all the great tales from Medea to Lady Macbeth.