West End

National Theatre, Lyttelton

Until Wed May 15 2013

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

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2.8 / 5

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Absolute rubbish. Very lame jokes, the characters are caricatures about whom one does not care one bit. Every line of dialogue is a heavy handed set up for a disappointing punch line. Copious amounts of alcohol might have helped but we left after the first half.


After the first half the group I was with wondered what all the fuss was about. The second half was a bit better and we enjoyed the farcical moments particularly. The set is impressive and Frances de la Toure puts in a good central performance. But all of that cannot disguise the fact that this is to my mind a third rate piece of theatre written by an ageing playwright who appears to be losing his comic edge. I expect something better from the National than this to be honest. If it hadn't been written by Alan Bennet it would never been performed here.


We took a large group to see this, all keenly anticipating another great Bennett evening. Sorry to say most, with a few exceptions, were "disappointed", and that word could be easily overheard many times as the audience left the theatre. For me this was a real feeble comedy which failed to come to grips with its subjects, all easy targets. The actors, all favourites, cruised through their roles on autopilot, and even the now famous scene change when the stately home is tidied up went off at half-cock with some dust-sheets left behind. Maybe this was an unusually 'off' night, and I do hope those who have already booked have a good time. But otherwise don't raise your expectations....


It’s not Bennett’s greatest writing but sufficiently amusing to provide an evening of good entertainment. The casting was good and the set was brilliant when revealed in all it’s glory having been finally cleaned and polished by an army of NT volunteer curators. The filming of the porn video “Reach for the Thigh” was pure farce, complete with the arrival of a Bishop and we can empathies with Dorothy Stacpoole who becomes a living exhibit in the growing heritage industry. It’s not surprising that Bennett would target the Thatcherite 80’s when everything had a price rather than a value, but I guess most of his core audience probably hold the NT in high regard. The intention must be to make them question their motives for volunteering and the consequences of membership without responsibility of a self selected organisation which benefits a largely Blairite urban minority, whilst robbing the majority via gift aid.


Another winner from Bennett and Hytner. A fine production in every sense. Thoroughly appreciated by the audience, with no sign of leavers at the interval (compared with the big exit for "Damned by Dispair"). Equally enjoyed by the audience and the cast, I would imagine