Jenny Eastop directs this first London production of James Bridie’s play in sixty years. But what have critics been saying about it?
Village headmaster William Gillie is killed by the furniture van coming to take away his possessions, as he is being evicted from his home when his school is closed down. He has spent his entire teaching career fighting the Education Board’s narrow idea of schooling, trying to inspire his pupils to strive for great creative lives. Having lost his school and his home and with none of his pupils quite finding the wings to fly free, his life is examined by a heavenly Procurator and Judge. For all his efforts to inspire great artistic freedom, did he actually achieve anything in his life? Or is the very act of trying and hoping enough?
The Guardian: *** “has an honourable place in the long list of plays about idealistic teachers: it’s just a pity that there is not more consistency of style in Jenny Eastop’s production.”
The Times: * “A creaky, tediously verbose fable is not helped by uneven acting and a moribund production whose pace never exceeds a painful crawl.”
Broadway World:*** “Bridie’s typically sharp and sardonic writing is well served by the whole cast.”
British Theatre Guide: “Director Jenny Eastop does not seem to have any great faith in a piece not seen in London since that first production, asking all of her actors to play very large in the tiny space, at times appearing hysterical and shouting to emphasise even their finer feelings.”
Everything Theatre: *** “Mr Gillie may be slightly long-winded, but it provides plenty of food for thought.”
Partially Obstructed View: ” In the end, much like the character it’s named after, Mr Gillie is well-meaning but doesn’t make the intended impact.”
Mr Gillie continues to play at the Finborough Theatre until the 11th July. For more information visit: http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/productions/2017/mr-gillie.php