Review Round Up: The Two Character Play, Hampstead Theatre

We round up what the critics have had to say about Sam Yates’ production of Tennessee Williams’ play.

(c)Marc Brenner

The Arts Desk: **** “A timely return for Tennessee Williams’ long-neglected play.”

Camden New Journal: “All kudos to director Sam Yates and Hampstead for recognising the play’s importance, what it reveals about Williams, and for giving us this welcome revival.”

Culture Whisper: **** “The Two Character Play may have arrived two years later than planned, but Yates’ technologically apt take on the drama packs a greater punch at a time when the theatre industry is recovering from the pandemic.”

The Jewish Chronicle: **** “Varla conveys a fevered intensity throughout and O’Flynn is a marvel, switching between the charisma of an actor out of character and Clare’s distraught and orphaned alter ego.”

The Independent: **** “Tennessee Williams’s experimental late-career work, which premiered at this very theatre in 1967, is revived in this ultra metatextual production.”

The Guardian: *** “O’Flynn and Varla are superb as the siblings, building an antagonistic intimacy and falling into strops or meltdowns.”

London Theatre1: *** “But decades after its first Hampstead Theatre run, the show remains experimental, and this production didn’t quite have enough energy to sustain my interest throughout.”

Evening Standard: **** “Yates’ production has been long delayed by the pandemic but it feels like he never stopped thinking about this fascinating play, either. He knows just when to jolt an audience and when to let us luxuriate in the odd, nostalgic world of Williams’ past.”

London “It is a unique and convoluted play, but Yates makes it as easy to follow as Williams’ writing allows. The relationship between the siblings, modelled on Williams’ own complex relationship with his sister Rose, is brought to life by “total theatre”, something that Clare mocks Felice for trying to achieve in the play. Sound effects, music, props, cameras, lights and every inch of the stage is used to its full potential. Credit must go to Rosanna Vize for her set design.”

LouReviews: “There is a sense of mystery throughout both plays, which blend together until we are not quite sure which pair we are watching. Of course there are three pairs – Zubin and Kate the actors as Felice and Clare the actors as Felice and Clare the characters.”

iNews: *** “The play isn’t a major rediscovery; but handled this smartly, it’s a cruel, clever little comedy in a minor key.”

The Stage: **** “Challenging and thought-provoking”

The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “Yates’ production is suitably shambolic, but inventive, using tricks of modern theatre to enhance the writer’s themes. For all its many flaws and its often irritating quirkiness, the work possesses a magnetic pull that keeps drawing us back to it and our enduring fascination with Williams himself is the obvious explanation for this. The play is undoubtedly an oddity, but it is an engaging one.”

London **** “you have to hand this latest in the Hampstead’s series of “Originals” for taking a lesser-known title and all but jolting it into renewed life.”

The Two Character Play continues to play at the Hampstead Theatre until the 28th August.

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