Brideshead Reviewed in Richmond-on-Thames (More)

Two more reviews of the Richmond-on-Thames performances of Brideshead have been posted on internet theatrical sites. The first is by Zoe Skipworth on Plays to See:

I‘m going to start by saying that this production was exactly what I wanted. I absolutely adore Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisitedas it is so rich, so full of things to ponder over afterwards, and yet such an indigestible whirlwind. The reader is left with a sense that perhaps nothing in Ryder’s letters actually ever occurred in the ‘reality’ of the characters’ world: a moreish, gelatinous dream. The novel oozes social and religious critique, nostalgia theory and the superficiality of ‘charm’ – the so-called “English blight”, which perhaps seems more contemporaneous a point than ever, thinking about a certain recent referendum result…

Richmond’s adaptation satiated my Waugh-mega-fan persona because it didn’t really change anything from the novel at all, in fact it was so true to the novel, even lifting lines directly from it, that it slightly felt like watching a really well-acted audiobook.

After praising the cast and staging, she concludes:

Overall, I was very impressed with the acting and production of Brideshead at Richmond, and I would definitely recommend it to a friend. However, I do feel that perhaps more could have been done with the adaptation element of the play – it was so true to the novel that as a reader, I felt a little surprised that nothing had changed. The creativity of adaptation is a modern phenomenon that I think Bryony Lovery and Damian Cruden just haven’t cottoned onto yet. 

London Theatre 1, which also reviewed the Southampton performance, has posted a review by Peter Yates in which he praises the actors, especially those playing Charles and Sebastian. He continues:

Damian Cruden’s direction, in conjunction with Sara Perks excellent design, dispenses with any notion of portrait-and- furniture laden antique pile as Brideshead Castle is envisaged…Bryony Lavery’s script is slick and sleek and as faithful to the original inasmuch as a stage adaptation of a novel can be…

The review concludes:

When Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited in 1945, depressed by war and envisaging that socialism and impecuniousness would be the certain death of solely owner-occupied stately homes, he was describing an age that couldn’t compete with modernity. This production captures the spirit of that age, the mood, the delight and ultimately the doom-laden vacuousness that leaves Sebastian marooned, Julia captive and unfulfilled in a moribund marriage and Charles penniless, homeless and rudderless. We may not leave the auditorium uplifted by the themes but we recognise that this is a classy dramatic rendering of a classic novel.

The English Touring Theatre/York Theatre Royal production closes after tonight’s last performance at the Richmond Theatre.

UPDATE (4 July 2016): Subsequent reviews have been posted on internet theatrical websites West End Wilma (reviewed by Carolin Kopplin) and British Theatre Guide (reviewed by Claire Seymour). Both reviews were based on the Richmond performances and were more favorable than not.

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