Review Round Up: Tale of Two Cities, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre

The classic story by Charles Dickens is brought to life in the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre directed by Timothy Sheader. Here’s what critics have been saying about it: 


Time Out: ** “a sincere but doomed attempt to telescope a Dickens novel into a three-hour stage play, in a version that unduly complicates things by half attempting to set it in the present day.”

Attitude:  ** “The company commit fully and at times give explosive and passionate performances. They are not helped by the clunky script with enormous amounts of exposition.”

Culture Whisper: *** “The socialist core of Dickens’s writing dominates this production, and certainly offers food for thought. But the real radical thing about his stories – both in the 1800s and now – is the sheer vitality, humour and sympathy with which all different classes of characters were described. It’s a shame that this humanity is lost in a rather lifeless show.”

The Stage: * “The production tries so hard to be cool, to be contemporary, relevant. But the more the show aims for cutting edge, the more it feels like a blunt instrument.”

WhatsOnStage: ** “There’s just so much plot. The whole review could be spent summarising Dickens’ improbable but hugely satisfying plot. But the thing is, it’s no longer satisfying onstage – it’s hard to follow, and requires great lumps of leaden exposition and back story.”

The Guardian: ** “This version, mixing modern and 18th-century costume, tries to have the best of both worlds by combining Dickens’ narrative with images of the refugee camp at Sangatte: the result is a fearful muddle.”

The Telegraph: * “the best of books, the worst of shows.”

The Times: * “Matthew Dunster, whose desperation to make this sweeping novel relevant to our times has reduced it to something that is hard to follow.”

Broadway World: ** “A Tale of Two Citiesunfortunately lacks the sharpness of the guillotine on this occasion.”

British * “Whilst the political statement it tries to make is laudable, it is crashingly noisy and unsubtle, with the ensemble often reduced to chewing the scenery. Timothy Sheader (director) and Matthew Dunster (writer) are both accomplished and talented directors and writers; it is hard to fathom what happened here to produce such a dud.”

Exeunt Magazine: ” It’s raucous, colourful and exhilarating, and while there’s a lot of plot to gallop through in three hours, meaning the cast have little opportunity to show off their talents, the closing sequences are moving.”

London Theatre1: ** “Such a poignant story underpins the piece and clearly, it is not lacking in good intentions. That said, the creative team needs to establish a consensus of vision and ensure this consensus extends to their cast because, in its current state, confusion abounds for both company and audience.”

British Theatre Guide: “Stylistically, the show is modern, Brechtian and angry. Anyone who loves theatre and craves social justice should see this fine production.”

A Tale of Two Cities will continue to play at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until the 5th August. To book tickets visit: Discount, See, Last, Love, Theatre and UK



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