War and Peace

Saturday, 27 July, 1996

This co production by Royal National Theatre and Shared Experience Theatre is a bold attempt to tell the story in 4 and a half hours. Unfortunately in my opinion they failed which is not surprising considering the huge novel.

You have to keep your wits about you if you don't want to forget which character is who. There are a lot a scene changes with a lot of the cast playing different parts.You can easily get confused, I must admit I did a few times.

Nancy Mecler and Polly Teale the directors did not explore the characters enough. We never get to know why Prince Bolkonsky was always bitter against his daughter Maria or why Maria put up with it and refused to leave her father. A lot of the characters needed to be explored more to have a greater understanding of why they did what they did so we could have more sympathy with their plight.

The acting was good as usual, particularly by Richard Hope who played Pierre Bezuhov the only character that is really explored. The props are minimal indeed with basically just a few chairs and a piano, but they were used very inventively.

Overall I found the play a bit hit and miss, and a little untidy.I won't be rushing back to see it again.

(Darren Dalglish)

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