Review Round Up: Aristocrats, Donmar Warehouse

Lyndsey Tuner directs this new production of Brian Friel’s play about a generation whose past threatens their future. Here, Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews….

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The Guardian: *** “The play is excellently performed even if, when it comes to the production, I craved more matter and less art.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Turner directs with her usual sensitivity but her decision with her designer Es Devlin to set the piece in an abstract blue box, with a back wall on which a historical painting gradually appears, and the mansion represented by a doll’s house full of miniatures, is distancing and unhelpful.”

Broadway World: *** “the sparse stylistic elements do allow the performances to shine. The main standout is Dawson’s Casimir, whose almost constant, twitching presence provides the strongest glue to hold the play together.”

The Times: **** “A moving portrait of dysfunctional Irish family”

Evening Standard: **** “Es Devlin’s set at first intrigues and then delights. It’s largely bare except for a doll’s house and we gradually come to appreciate how apt an image this is for the fragile fairytale that the family weaves about its past and present in this ‘house of reticence’. ”

Time Out: **** “Lyndsey Turner’s beautiful production is also cut clear and sharp as crystal, saving the play – not one of the late Friel’s most famous ones – from potential well-mannered wistfulness or whisky-sodden elegy. ” 

The FT: **** “A mite too tidy at the end, this absorbing play, directed with sparkle by Lyndsey Turner, leaves us with a sense that with nannies, grannies and patriarchs out of the way, the O’Donnells and their ilk will be able to drop their class shackles and truly live.”

Theatre Cat: “Director Lyndsey Turner is adept at bringing Friel’s world to life with spare, haunting precision: it is set on a clear stage , though Es Devlin’s design makes great effect with a fragmented mural finally torn loose, and  a miniature dollhouse around which the family legends of old-posh-Catholicism are related to a visiting historian.”

The Upcoming: *** “If there is one thing Friel does better than almost any other playwright, it’s creating the complex ache and allure of history, from the personal to the national. The concept is often as much of a palpable figure as those found on the cast list. And yet, be it because of the play itself or Turner’s production, it’s missing from the Donmar’s Aristocrats.”

The Theatre Times: “In the end, Turner’s anti-naturalistic approach results in an oddly unemotional, disjointed and not entirely satisfying production.”

Life in the Cheap Seats: “It was neither a new story, nor interesting. The characters were solid, but that’s just not enough to make an evening fly. At 1:15 before the interval I was shocked to discover I had not been there for the full two hours already.”

British Theatre Guide: “Unfortunately, Turner’s distancing abstractions mean that we don’t care as much as we should.”

Aristocrats continues to play at the Donmar Warehouse until the 22nd September. For more information visit:


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