I saw this for the final time on Thursday which had the post show discussion afterwards. It was very interesting to hear the thoughts of the cast, most of whom were present. They said that they barely touched on the script in the first few weeks of rehearsals and mostly discussed their thoughts about the likely life experiences of the people they were playing and the motivations of the key characters.
The questions were mostly interesting and the only one I found slightly odd was a man who said that even though he had a catholic background he felt that it was unlikely anyone would be extreme enough to believe that the last rights were imperative and therefore the young person's father was unlikely to feel as he did. I didn't agree with this at all, but the cast did discuss that his emotions would have been heightened, he may not have felt as strongly in other circumstances etc.
The best bits of this play are amazing and the scenes between Prof Woolff and her 'little friend' are excellent.
I saw this tonight and what an absolutely fantastic piece of theatre. As Rob Icke’s final production as Associate Director at the Almeida, this was a great way to go. As a fan of both Robert Icke and Juliet Stevenson’s previous collaborations at the Almeida, i was hoping for more of the same and they certainly delivered here. For me, it was one of those pieces of theatre that really does challenge you in its subject matter as the narrative is played out on stage (as the different characters try to work through their respective issues) and certainly it’s a production that will linger in my mind as I chew over it’s content in the days to come.
Certainly, the set design by Hildegard Bechtler, simplistic in its design was rather effective (a nice use of the revolve here (and who doesn’t like a nice revolving set?) in allowing the various arguments and discussions to play out and as a patron draws you into that environment. I’ll admit, I was a little wary about how the drum kit was going to be employed in the production ( I was secretly hoping we might of got a bit of music from the 1980’s glam rock band Dr and the Medics during proceedings), but the use of it to help heighten the tension actually worked really well. A big shout out to Hannah Ledwidge for her contribution to this production.
Casting wise, what a cast this was. Absolutely no weak links here and I thought the gender and race swaps with the different characters was incredibly effective. Juliet Stevenson was just sublime as the lead. Her portrayal of the Dr was just brilliant to watch (swapping those hospital scenes where she came across as quite a cold hard faced character to those more tender moments, particularly played alongside Ria Zmitrowicz (who was great as the feisty kid) and later on with the Priest.
A thoroughly deserved standing ovation my me and quite a lot of other patrons who where sat in the stalls tonight and it’s great that this production is getting a transfer next year to allow more people to see this truly wonderful production. 5⭐️
The scene when she's confronted with her own entitlement is outstanding, and I love how the writer or director or both gifted Stephenson a scene where she is simultaneously on stage and on screen - the dream scenario, dahling. Like the whole work it's so clever without being at all 'too clever'.
Never mind the west end, given the religious aspect and the key word - an absolute trigger in US culture - I do hope it gets a chance somewhere in New York.
Interesting play of ideas, even if it picks an easy target, and Juliet Stevenson shows once more why she is one of our finest living actresses. The gender/race swap was fairly pointless once the point had been made and did the play no favours. And the music, though atmospheric at times, was annoying during the interval when the musician pissed off and left a monotonous drum machine playing the same few notes over and over again. Bit like people who leave their dogs alone at home all day to entertain the neighbours.