Review Round Up: Gundog, Royal Court Theatre

Simon Longman’s new play is being presented as part of the Royal Court’s Jerwood New Playwrights programme. Here’s what critics have had to say about it…


On a farm in the middle of nowhere, sisters Becky and Anna try to hold their family together after the death of their mother.

Time is always moving somewhere – but here it’s very quiet.

When they discover a stranger wandering aimlessly across the land, the three establish an unlikely partnership in their determination to survive.

London ** “A little more focus, and a clearer voice, and this could have been an engaging family drama.”

The Telegraph: ** “Vicky Featherstone also appears to have asked her cast to adopt a rooted-to-the-spot impassivity, very rabbit-in-the-headlights, finally dehumanising and distracting.”

The Guardian: **** “a compelling, unforgiving glimpse into rural life, and one in which there is not a single fluffy, gambolling lamb in sight.”

The Independent: *** “If one definition of talent is the ability to dictate the terms on which an audience receives your work, Longman must be accounted a playwright of distinct promise.”

The Stage: *** “a raw, slippery play, stuffed with sadness and strangeness and loss and life, even if it comes to feel relentless by the end.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “It’s not a play that offers a laugh a minute, but it is a beautiful and truthful thing, a painful portrait of a family struggling to deal with the ghosts of their past and the promise of the future.”

A Younger Theatre: “a show that challenges your behaviour towards family, friends and fellow countryman beyond belief. ”

Exeunt Magazine: “Longman’s writing come close to voicing the obvious ‘themes’ of the play, like the redundancy of knowing about nature in a concrete-covered world, whilst always skirting blurting it out directly.”

West End Wilma: *** “The play dwells a lot on the passage of time and the repetition of the farming year which by the end of the hour and 40 minutes begins to drag.”

The FT: *** “Vicky Featherstone directs with what James Joyce once called “scrupulous meanness”, but no amount of discipline is enough to dispel the suspicion that, presented as it is in London SW1, it may attract accusations of condescending towards the entire rural component of the country.”

The Times: * “Simon Longman’s sheep-farming drama is so gloomy it makes Long Day’s Journey Into Night look like Airplane!”

British **** “Yes it is a bleak play, but the script breaks into the most wonderful, poetic language, particularly from Mick, who delivers a beautiful speech about planting himself in the earth and the sky to protect his family.”

The Upcoming: *** “Gundog is interesting. At every turn there’s something to admire and appreciate about this play. Well worth a watch for anyone interested in how more artistic elements can tell a story.”

British Theatre Guide: “a grim, existential drama minutely anatomising the difficulties faced by a farming family somewhere in the UK at an unspecified time that is broadly contemporary.”

Broadway World: **** “Vicky Featherstone’s production is a sensory overload that works incredibly well.”

The Reviews Hub: *** “The audience is not filled with warm fuzzy feelings and a new-found appreciation for the countryside, but they have been exposed to a way of life most will never see.”

Evening Standard: *** “the play’s relentless bleakness is overbearing, and its preoccupation with death, disease and lameness — the last of these a key word — doesn’t feel like a resounding corrective to metropolitan ignorance about rusticity.”

Miro Magazine: “a visually stunning performance of Simon Longman’s script”

Plays to See: **** “The emotional depth of Gundog, despite its faults, is immersive. This is due in no small part to Vicky Featherstone’s direction.” * 1/2 “It’s conspicuously worthy to try to combine elements of poverty, migration, feminism, dysfunction and dementia but neither Longman’s tedious time-skipping script nor Vicky Featherstone’s static direction can relieve the infectious boredom.”

Gun Dog continues to play at the Royal Court Theatre until the 10th March. For more information and to book tickets visit:



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