Review Round Up: Absolute Hell, National Theatre

The reviews are in for the National Theatre’s production of  Rodney Ackland’s play, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins. Here, Love London Love Culture rounds up what the critics have been saying…

Absolute Hell

The Guardian: *** “Ackland’s play emerges more as an enjoyable slice of social history than as a timeless myth.”

The Stage: **** “It’s a bold and ambitious play, fascinating and provocative, a kind of living Hogarth portrait of a Blitz-ravaged London living hard on treble whiskies and rationed eggs and desperately trying to blot out the world and the war.”

The Independent: *** “Ackland’s script is sparkling and witty in a way real drunks rarely are, Joe Hill-Gibbins directs with zip and pace, and the massive cast have both dash and detail.”

WhatsOnStage: ** “On this showing, it is so far from a masterpiece that it is best left as a brave curiosity in the drawer marked history.”

Broadway World: *** “Something of an imperfect rediscovery, then, but still resonant in the way it depicts circling patterns of self-destruction and an all-too-human messiness – the cynical, but ultimately empathetic, rejoinder to simplistic nostalgia about the nobility of the past.”

The Telegraph: *** “Depending on your view, then, this is a glass half-empty or half-full revival but not, perhaps surprisingly, an absolute must.”

London **** ” a stunning production that teems with life and impressionistic drama.”

The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “This 2018 revival, by director Joe Hill-Gibbons, is less shocking because of all the other plays which have dealt with the same or similar subject matter since; but it is still a remarkable spectacle.”

Time Out: **** “it has something more transcendent to say about the allure of nightlife, the strange bedfellows it breeds, the means by which it exists to alleviate loneliness as much as to facilitate joy. And this is all articulated beautifully Hill-Gibbins’s tenderly atmospheric productions, the grandest and most moving work of his career.”

The Upcoming: ** “Effectively a creaky, intermittently bleak 1940s version of Cheers, Rodney Ackland’s drama is one of those plays that suffers from the story of its inception.”

Radio Times: **** “This 50s play has lost its shock value but the National’s slick production is still powerful”

London Theatre1: *** ” Best enjoyed as a period play, the lack of political correctness was rather refreshing (for me, anyway), and while it ebbs and flows, there’s some good acting to be enjoyed from a cast doing brilliantly with what they’re given.”

Absolute Hell continues to play at the National Theatre until the 16th June. For more information visit:

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