The Cryptogram

  • Date:
    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Genre: Drama
    Opened 17 Oct 2006
    Written: David Mamet
    Directed: Josie Rourke
    Produced: Donmar Warehouse
    Cast: Kim Cattrall, Douglas Henshall, with Hoe Ashman, Adam J Brown, Olivier Coopersmith (alternating Child)
    Synopsis: John cannot sleep. He’s afraid to go to sleep. He doesn’t understand what is happening or why his father hasn’t returned home. David Mamet’s unsettling elliptical play charts the breakdown of a family, pinpointing the moment when childhood finally vanishes.

    What the critics had to say.....
    NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "A cryptogram is something written-in cipher, requiring a key. Yet for all the air of mystique that foggily swirls around the play there is no disguising its blatant, melodramatic underpinning. In three scenes and 65 minutes Mamet advances from scenes of comfortable domesticity to fury, tears and delusions. " MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "On a first viewing, in 1994, I took David Mamet's cryptic 65-minute play to be about betrayal. Now, in Josie Rourke's fine revival, it seems to be more about the corruption of innocence...an immaculate production." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "What Mamet’s play and Josie Rourke’s tense, raw production painfully captures is that moment in life when a child wakes to the frailty of his parents and the knowledge that there are some ills in life that can’t be cured with a kiss, a cuddle and a few kind words – the end of innocence, in fact." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "I liked the play more than when I saw it at its premiere 12 years ago. Then I thought that Mamet’s hesitant, elliptical, fragmented dialogue came close to self-parody. But this time it’s clearly the language of people who are stumbling about in the ontological fog or, as the title suggests, trying to solve the cryptograms of their lives." ALEKS SIERZ for THE STAGE says, "Mamet’s focus on the child allows him to explore not only the roots of psychological damage but also the way that adult conflicts are imposed on young minds. With its perverse joy in verbal power games, the result is a stomach-clenching gem." ALASTAIR MACAULAY for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "Although neither adult has fully solved yet how to make all the many Mametian repetitions convincingly expressive, the production’s tight pace and gathering anguish are otherwise compelling." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "An immaculate and deeply disturbing production."

    External links to full reviews from popular press
    The Guardian
    The Independent
    The Stage
    The Times
    Daily Telegraph
    The Financial Times

    Production photo by Tristram Kenton

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