We round up the reviews for David Hare’s new monologue performed by Ralph Fiennes at the Bridge Theatre.

(c)Manuel Harlan

The Guardian: *** “There are dates, statistics and medical science, all powerfully delivered by Fiennes, who magically animates the stage, though he barely moves on it. The monologue has the urgency and passion of recently lived experience but also echoes of the 10 o’clock news at times, with familiar summaries of information and arguments.”

The Telegraph: **** “Whether you agree with his diagnosis or not, the piece grips in its light-touch incisiveness. It reminds us why Hare matters but also why theatre does – as a place to gather together to confront society’s darkest days and demons.”

The Arts Desk: **** “Yet for all his rage and eloquence, the most powerful point in the evening comes when he makes a simple and almost primal appeal for “Truth”. Referencing other profoundly divisive political events ranging from Bloody Sunday to the Grenfell Tower disaster, he declares movingly that ultimately it is truth that has proved to be the only way to address and heal such levels of disaster.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “All is this is magnificently realised by Fiennes, who under Nicholas Hytner’s quietly efficient and detailed direction, uses all his own sensitivity and charisma to create a portrait of a man undone by an illness that seizes him like a demon, and yet determined to use the experience for good.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “Nicholas Hytner goes for a pared-back production, which feels prudent if not necessarily the most exciting. There’s an elegance to Gareth Fry’s sound and George Fenton’s brief musical interludes but Hytner is undoubtedly guilty of under-utilising Bunny Christie’s design in favour of simply moving Fiennes from in front of a desk to the side of a desk and back again.”

The Reviews Hub: ** “The theatre is not the BBC and there is no necessity for balance, but, in this case, the omission of key facts that do not support the writer’s case undermines the credibility of everything that he has to say. Beat the Devil is a huge disappointment, but, thankfully, Hare lives to write another play and, hopefully, to return to better form.”

Evening Standard: **** “The piece has such immediacy, and Fiennes such understated charisma, that any fear of Covid-fatigue is overcome. Likewise, the thrill of being in a theatre again outweighs the strangeness of an audience in face-coverings scattered around an auditorium denuded of seats.”

The Independent: ** “Hare has never been one for subtlety, but these kinds of grand, clunking statements occur too frequently for one to take the righteous undercurrent seriously. It all feels too broad, with far too little of the precise, needling critique one might have hoped for at this particular time.”

iNews: **** “For a riveting, cathartic – and often surprisingly humorous – 50 minutes, Ralph Fiennes paces the stage at the Bridge Theatre to deliver an account of Covid-19 that is as political as it is personal.”

Reviewsgate.com: **** “If serious theatre had to re-open with something this is as memorable a piece as could be, one people will look back at in years to come.”

Beat the Devil continues to play at the Bridge Theatre until the 31st October.