Review Round Up: Anna, National Theatre

Phoebe Fox stars as the title role in this new thriller now playing at the National Theatre. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews…

WhatsOnStage: **** “For those familiar with the Ringhams’ work, this sound technology will be familiar. It is the pairing up with Hickson’s intriguing plot that is more of a departure and although at times the piece labours over its many twists, it works. It’s helped enormously by Natalie Abrahami’s precise and clever direction which occasionally uses darkness to increase our sensory deprivation.”

The Telegraph: ** “Ella Hickson divided audiences – and critics – last year with The Writer at the Almeida, a boldly self-involved provocation looking at a female playwright’s attempt to avoid conventional (and ‘patriarchal’) structures and fashion something in her own voice.”

London **** “Amidst the duplicitousness of who knows what about whom, some of the particularities of the plot become confused, particularly at the end of the play. But this production creates an impressively unique experience with its tinny soundtrack of domestic surveillance; one that feels at once innovative and new, and completely of the Cold War era.”

Time Out: ** “Natalie Abrahami’s production feels polished and flashy: a machine that works, but holds us at arm’s length from these characters.”

Broadway World:  **** “an exciting example of theatrical innovation illuminating its subject in a bold new way. Ingenious and hypnotic.”

Exeunt Magazine: “This is SUCH a feminist play! Everything Anna is saying about how she talks to her economics students about social organisation and collective responsibility: feminist!”

Evening Standard: *** “Fox is as fine as she customarily is, making Anna all nerves and conviction, but how we long for the backstories to be fleshed out. More could be made of the binaural possibilities of the headphones too, although what the Ringhams capture well is a tapestry of furtive whispers.”

City AM: “Both have a bent towards dark, psychological dramas about women unravelling in ruthless and unfair circumstances. This riff on that formula leads to one of the strangest and most remarkable plays of the year.”

British ***** “There are moments where Hickson’s writing threatens to veer into soap opera territory, but something – this excellent cast perhaps, or the breakneck direction (at 65 minutes straight through, things hurtle along) – always pulls it back at the last second. Consistently gripping, Anna is a superb spy drama, blessed with a dazzling central performance.”

A Younger Theatre: ***** “In keeping with the era in question, our implicit – or complicit – presence is perfectly illustrative of the satellite state of the Soviet Union. This link between audience and performer makes for heady spectatorship; the inextricable ties between the emotional and physical both onstage and off, exhilarating.”

Anna continues to play at the National Theatre until the 15th June.

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