Guardian Reviews Brideshead Dramatization

The Guardian in today’s edition joins the other metropolitan dailies (Mail, Telegraph, and Times) in reviewing the stage production of Brideshead Revisited which is now touring the provinces. As in many previous cases, the verdict of the Guardian’s drama critic Alfred Hickling is mixed:

…if the plot sometines drags, there are some fine performances along the way…Cruden’s minimalist production certainly looks stylish. Sara Perks’ design keeps the stage clear of period clutter… [It] becomes increasingly evident that this adaptation cannot survive on charm alone. A third of the playing time is devoted to the deathbed capitulation of the old apostate Marchmain; though Waugh’s bedazzlement with aristocratic Catholicism is a trial even readers of the book found difficult to endure. The novelist Henry Green noted “my heart was in my mouth all through the deathbed scene, hoping against hope that the old man would not give way”. Here, at the tail end of a languid evening, one hopes against hope that extreme unction may be delivered before the last bus home…The saving grace is a splendidly louche performance from Christopher Simpson as the infantile, teddy-bear-dependent, alcoholic Sebastian… He provides, without question, the heart and soul of the production. Yet once he absconds to drink himself to death in a Tunisian monastery, the heart goes missing, leaving only the problem of the soul to be dealt with.

Another review by Claire Hayes to much the same effect may be found on The Reviews Hub. The production is playing at the Theatre Royal in Bath through Saturday, 7 May and opens at the Nuffield Theatre in S0uthampton next Tuesday (10 May) for a five day run.

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