Review Round Up: Describe the Night, Hampstead Theatre

Hampstead Theatre are currently presenting a production of Rajiv Joseph’s play which explores  the blurred lines between lies, fiction and conspiracy theories. Here’s what critics have been saying… 

The Independent: *** “But the intellectual daring and emotional nuance of the piece come through strongly in Lisa Spirling’s remarkably clear and undaunted production”

The Times: ** “It’s all wildly topical, what with ‘fake news’ etc, but the plot is like a Russian doll and just as disappointing.”

The Telegraph: *** “Overall, the experience is rather like being strapped into an old Aeroflot jet: it creaks ominously and you’re not entirely sure if the pilot knows where he’s headed. Yet en route, the sense of complex terrain being traversed at speed offers a kind of intellectual exhilaration.”

The Stage: *** “The play is a complex cocktail of truth and fiction, soothsaying and censorship, real incident (the 2010 plane crash that wiped out the Polish parliament) and fictionalised backstory. But this staging somehow contrives to make it feel flat.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “What could have been a careering, questioning thriller instead slumps into sludgy, bog-standard staginess. What a waste.”

The Guardian: *** “But while it’s an ambitious play, in the style of Tom Stoppard or Tony Kushner, it is one that teases the intellect rather than rouses the emotions.”

Broadway World: *** “Though it will likely make viewers keen to read further, and certainly shows the vulnerability of truth, some of its analysis feels overtaken by (Trumpian) events. Admirable ambition, but perhaps a focussed edit would allow it to speak to the heart as well as the head.”

British Theatre Guide: “although Describe the Night could probably benefit from a little deft cutting, there is much to enjoy for those that have a taste for Russian literature, politics and/or history, as well as the imagination to enjoy a sweeping but rarely dull portrait of artists and tyrants in association and conflict.”

Time Out: ** “There is still something impressive about the ambition, and maybe a different director would have made something a bit more coherent out of it all. But Lisa Spirling’s production is all over the shop, veering from melancholy to high comedy with little emotional logic.”

Describe the Night continues to play at the Hampstead Theatre until the 9th June. For more information visit:


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