Review Round Up: The Prisoner, National Theatre

Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne co-direct this piece about what it means to be free. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews… 


The Arts Desk: ” If nothing else, The Prisoner offers an austere 70 minutes of quiet, thoughtful, slow-moving theatre amid the frenzied energy and garish colours of so much theatre at large elsewhere. But it’s a troubling work all the same, not altogether convincing in its format or its themes and dramatically rather inert.”

Broadway World: ** “The Prisoner is a meditatively sombre treatise, drawing on mythological tropes to contemplate the nature of crime, punishment, redemption and society. Sadly, its failure to interrogate and elucidate its own quest hamstrings the play, making it ponderous and lacking in the dynamic propulsion that fires up the liveness of much theatre.” ** “Brook and Estienne’s exploration of justice seems to be a half-baked melting pot, full of interesting snapshots, but results in a piece that, despite its swift 70-minute running time, lingers a little too long on the surface without digging deeper.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Brook treats anything entertaining or entrancing as superfluous extras. And yet, there’s something here that holds the attention; some purpose that persuades you to lean in, some poise that’s always in control of itself.”

The Telegraph: ** “Sad to say, this thin and philosophically opaque work is pretty deadly too.”

Culture Whisper: ** “The Prisoner is visually appealing and offers some strong performances, it is let down by slight and clunky storytelling.”

British ** “Unforgivably dull and embarrassingly lacklustre, The Prisoner is a great disappointment from a theatre legend.”

London Box ** “The cast all do exactly what is required within the framework of the production before them. Hiran Abeysekera as Mavuso displays impressive range across the course of his journey, and while the others play their parts admirably, the production doesn’t give the others huge amounts to do.”

A Younger Theatre: “The saving grace (small though it is) comes in the form of Hiran Abeysekera’s portrayal of the burdened prisoner, bringing conflict and indecisions to his bland surroundings. But even Abeysekera cannot inject enough spirit into this barren piece to make it enjoyable.”

British Theatre Guide: “It will resonate with any audience thanks to downbeat directing, superlative acting and the knack of the very best writers who are knowingly manage to worm their way into viewers’ subconscious minds, leaving them pondering on the underlying issues that matter long after leaving the theatre.”

The Prisoner continues to play at the National Theatre until the 4th October. For more information visit:


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