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Evening At The Talk House

Our critics rating: 
Wednesday, 25 November, 2015
Review by: 
Mark Shenton

You can hardly be surprised if a play that calls itself Evening at the Talk House is an evening of all talk. But this one is all talk and no play; who cares about any of it? Here's another insufferable evening of actorly naval-gazing wrapped up in futuristic gloom, as a bunch of actors reunite, ten years on from a big theatrical success, to a world in which theatre is now more or less redundant, bad television rules, and mass surveillance and summary justice is being executed, in every sense, all over the land.

Plays like this, of course, may speed the demise of the theatre, and actors may indeed find better employment as agents of the state offering speedy pin-prick executions of those that the state don't want around anymore.

Ian Rickson's production is heavy with atmosphere and foreboding, but the stakes don't feel as high as they ought to be, nor the outcome. The play simply feels arid and enervating. And although the Quay Brothers have provided an appropriately atmospheric drawing room set, there's so little direct action unfolding on it that we're left eavesdropping on reported action, even if the talk is of final solutions and the means and method by which people are killed.

The London world premiere at the National is being produced in association with Scott Rudin, so presumably a future Broadway life is being anticipated; I'd be surprised if it gets one.


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