Review Round Up: The Captive Queen, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Barrie Rutter directs this new re-imagination of John Dryden’s Restoration drama, filled with passion and politics. Here’s what critics have had to say about it…

the captive queenAn ageing Emperor and his Governor rage at the loss of their youth and beauty. Two fratricidal sons are spurred from victory in war to the warfare of love. And all four are besotted with the same Captive Queen.

The Guardian: *** “But glad as I am to have caught this rare old piece, I longed to see the actors returning to their shop-floor jobs having escaped into the luxuriant role of Mughal potentates.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “The production’s Indian tang is a plus, not just in the casting but in the contributions of three musicians who render Niraj Chag’s insidiously beautiful incidental music as dramatic underscoring.”

The Independent: *** ” There’s a puzzling lack of interaction here between the lives of the millworkers and characters they assume in the drama. This feels like a missed trick.”

The FT: ** “Sadly, despite much hard work and the evocative input of three onstage musicians, this remains a fairly unyielding piece.”

The Stage: *** “The production feels bolder in conception than in execution but in its ambition, and diversity of cast and voice, it makes a potent swansong for Rutter.”

The Times: ** “In this overblown and verbose Restoration tragedy the acting ranges from flat to gleefully excessive and the tone is muddled.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Never quite capitalising on its strong ideas and compelling material, the production feels unfinished for all its strengths, a fitting but low-key swansong.”

Broadway World: ** “It’s an inauspicious end to Rutter’s 26-year tenure, and a disappointing dip in what has so far been a top quality winter season at Shakespeare’s Globe.”

The Telegraph: *** “boldly conceived production”

The Upcoming: *** “The Captive Queen’s tale of pride, lust, despair and betrayal told in rhyming couplets might not be for everyone. But if high drama, excellent music, a diverse cast and an exotic twist sounds like your cup of tea, then this is a theatrical event that ought to be experienced.”

Time Out: *** “this is a valuable opportunity to see an intriguing text, full of unexpected, undampened humour.”

British Theatre Guide: “I longed for them to speak to the meaning and not the metre of the poetry, but this production marches its voices to the sound of the rhyme.”

Theatre Bubble: **** ” overall, the production is nothing less than triumphant. Expertly balancing the meta-theatricality of the setting and the play, Rutter and his company have succeeded in a creation that is nothing but heart.”

The Captive Queen continues to play at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until the 4th March. For more information and to book tickets visit:


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