Review Round Up: Common, National Theatre

Anne-Marie Duff and Cush Jumbo star in Jeremy Herrin’s production of DC Moore’s new play now playing at the National Theatre. But what have critics been saying about it? 


Mary’s the best liar, rogue, thief and faker in this whole septic isle. And now she’s back.

As the factory smoke of the industrial revolution belches out from the cities, Mary is swept up in the battle for her former home. The common land, belonging to all, is disappearing.

The Guardian: * “For the second time this season a play in the Olivier has a good look and intention – and no verbal discipline.”

Time Out: *** “The one unquestionably great thing about the play is Duff’s sardonic, fourth wall-breaking performance as Mary.”

Culture Whisper: ** “Duff is vivacious enough to just about make it work, but there’s a strained sense of polite awkwardness to the audience titters.”

The Stage: ** “too often it’s impenetrable, muddled and muddy.”

City AM: * “The cast threw what they had into it, and the staging is softly spooky, with red-tinged skies against a backdrop of shadowy spires. Ultimately though, all the enthusiasm and animatronic crows in the world wouldn’t redeem this pastoral nonsense.”

Exeunt Magazine: “the untamed, raggedy sprawl of Moore’s text bleeds into the performances too, blurring and obscuring them beyond individuality.” 

The Telegraph: ** “The land may be suffering crop-failure but the language used is fantastically over-ripe.”

Broadway World: ** “despite the lust, horror and, er, visceral spilling of guts, it’s not as engaging as it should be, and, though it shed half an hour off its original three-hour running time in previews, far too unwieldy. Following Salome, it’s another intriguing but messy Olivier misfire.”

Theatre Cat: “once we get beyond lynching to disembowelling and cutting people’s hearts out, it all looks deliciously, stickily real. Sadly, however, we just don’t care.”

British *** “it offers some great theatrical moments and surprises, including instances of real horror and the air of menace created by the cast swarming the large stage in pagan harvest costumes.”

The Independent: ** “Anne-Marie Duff puts some real spark into Mary’s attractive spitefulness.”

West End Wilma: *** “Common is a clever piece that bravely takes on an ambitious range of themes but doesn’t fully weave them together.”

The Upcoming: ** “In the end, however, Common is like a bad Nick Cave demo: flashes of gore and devilry, but seriously lacking a chorus.”

Evening Standard: ** “Tonally confused and lacking focus, it’s original but hard to engage with.”

The Times: * “wild, incomprehensible tale”

A Younger Theatre: ” Common is a jam-packed two hours, and far from predictable.”

London Theatre1: *** “the writer may have lost the way slightly with the story but the production itself was quite enthralling and surprising in places.”

Theatre Bubble: ** “the real thrill is seeing such an elusive piece placed on the National’s stage – simply to have such an engrossing cavalcade of conflict playing out can make for an interesting evening.”

London Box Office: ** “The production never stops being beautifully and evocatively designed with stunning work from the entire production team.”

British Theatre Guide: “despite some good central performances particularly from Anne-Marie Duff, the components do not gel, leaving areas where clarity is lacking and a few too many loose ends.”

Theatre Full Stop: ** “Unfortunately for Common, its programme is of more interest than the production.”

Radio Times: ** “Unfortunately it’s the plot that gets lost in this play about the commoners of England’s lost land, leaving your understanding as sparse as the dirt stage.”

Theatre Guide London: “a long, too often undramatic and too often simply confusing evening.”

Common continues to play at the National’s Olivier Theatre until the 5th August. For more information visit:








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