Review Round Up: The Plague, Arcola Theatre

Neil Bartlett presents an updated version of Albert Camus’ story of living through crisis and fighting despair. But what have critics been saying about it? 

the Plague

Dr Rieux is noticing things. A rat on the stairs, where it has no right to be. A sore throat becoming a fever. The first signs of panic. It all amounts to a troubling diagnosis… so what’s the cure?

The Stage: *** “If at times it feels as if depth has been sacrificed for detail, the production makes up for it with an arresting topicality.”

The Guardian: **** “Neil Bartlett has adapted and directed it with great ingenuity, expanding the novel’s technique of multiple narration.”

The Upcoming: **** “The Plague makes Camus accessible to new audiences and teaches us that, in the fight to survive at all costs, hope and unity are key to keeping one’s head above the putrid waters.”

The Independent: **** “The ensemble acting has a terrific edge and precision –  with Billy Postlethwaite (son of the late Pete) commanding the stage with a fierce flamboyance as Raymond Rambert.”

Hackney Citizen: “the decision to host such a powerful piece of work at such a relevant moment makes this one of the most thought-provoking and timely pieces of theatre that London has seen for years.”

The Financial Times: *** “Bartlett deliberately refuses to inject drama where Camus offers none. It is an honourable, even admirable approach, but not a helpful one in the circumstances.”

The Telegraph: **** “Bartlett’s production can’t help but drive home a thumping message: namely, in the face of the unspeakable, what would you do? I have to admit I left it feeling a little bit devastated. ”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Bartlett’s best move is to commit to the story in its own right. He takes the plague seriously and, rather than underlining the allegory, pointing out some parallel or other, he lets it breath.”

Exeunt Magazine: “More theatrical habits could be broken in this adaptation to resuscitate our memories and detach it from being merely a repetition of the novel – in its current form, it is a sturdy reminder of how Camus’s work justifies its status as a classic.”

British Theatre Guide: “Inevitably, the play selects what it can cover but this removes the difference between the characters including their motivation.”

Time Out: *** “if the drama slackens over the course of 85 minutes, the full payload of this unsparingly bleak fable comes crashing down by the close.”

Woodis Reviews: **** “Stylish, haunting and deeply theatrical.”

Jonathan Baz Reviews: *** “Not recommended for a sunny evening of theatre, but thoroughly recommended to sit through during a storm.”

Evening Standard: **** “There’s strong ensemble work from all five actors and a particularly vivid turn from Billy Postlethwaite.”

Theatre Bubble: **** “Bartlett’s direction builds slowly, perhaps too slowly, meaning the sense of hysteria is never as gripping as the moment of grief and pause. More contrast may have been perfect here – what we were presented with was instead a melancholic resignation. Certainly a show for 2017, in that regard.”

Theatre Full Stop: **** “Sara Powell gives an intense and touching performance.”

The Plague continues to play at the Arcola Theatre until the 6th May. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.arcolatheatre.com/event/the-plague/