Review - 'Aristocrats' at the National Theatre 2005
Opened 12 July 2005
Written: by Brian Friel
Directed: Tom Cairns
Cast: Sam Beazley (Uncle George), Stephen Boxer (Tom Hoffnung), Brian Doherty (Willie Diver), Dervla Kirwan (Alice), Peter McDonald (Eamon ), Gina McKee (Judith), T P McKenna (Father), Marcella Plunkett (Claire), Andrew Scott (Casimir)
Synopsis: A family gathers for a wedding at the ancestral home in County Donegal, its crumbling edifice testimony to an opulent way of life that's all but finished. As the accusations and demands of their dying father ring out, his wayward, volatile offspring find consolation in reinventing wild and bohemian stories of the big house in its heyday.
What the critics had to say.....
MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "fine revival..What Friel offers us is a humane analysis of the flawed Irish temper and its propensity for romance." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "unsatisfying....wilting production." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "If anyone is writing richer plays than Friel, I don’t know him, or her...Friel is the bard of loss, the poet of dislocation, and Aristocrats is a fine elegy to a disappearing world, well worth its revival at the National." PETER HEPPLE for THE STAGE says, "Andrew Scott...rather overshadows the rest of the low-key players, particularly his female siblings, Dervla Kirwan as alcoholic Alice and Gina McKee.." CHARLES SPENCER for DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Too much clotted exposition, too little living drama.....Friel is a paradoxical writer. At his greatest, he soars into the sublime. But when less than inspired, as he mostly is here, he seems like a conscientious, earthbound plodder." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "The production skilfully sustains the play's meditative, tragicomic mood. ...there is something genuinely Chekhovian in the mix of objectivity and compassion with which Friel views this dying breed...a richly ambivalent play."
Top photo (Tyrone House, County Galway) by Simon Marsden
Production Photo by Alastair Muir