Review Round Up: Old Bridge, Bush Theatre

We round up the reviews for Igor Memic’s 2020 Papatango New Writing Prize winning play now playing at the Bush Theatre.

Saffron Coomber (Mina) and Rosie Gray (Leila) in Old Bridge by Igor Memic at the Bush theatre, London Photograph: Tristram Kenton.

The Guardian: *** “With strong jokes and jolts, Memic shows high promise but next time needs to go deeper and clearer from his jumping-off point.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Winning the Papatango Prize (which Memic did, back in 2020 – this year’s winners are doing an audio tour in lieu of a live staging) is no mean feat: a piece has to be plucked from over a thousand entrants. This is a wholly deserving leader of the pack, with the writer bringing a faultless naturalism to conversational dialogue and, while the ending of the show is perhaps too protracted given the zipping pace of the first act, you’re carried along by these characters and their quirks, even as their home is transformed into a combat zone. It’s made all the more remarkable by the fact that Old Bridge is Memic’s debut play.”

Evening Standard: **** “This isn’t a perfect play by any stretch – a narrator is a clunky device, for one thing. But it is a remarkably assured debut, shot through with ardour and pain, recalling history that’s recent and raw.”

The Upcoming: ***** “This memory play is not based on Igor Memic’s own reminiscences, but rather those of his relatives and close friends. Memic grew up in Britain, and the production is cunning to acknowledge its separation from the locality by having the actors use their own accents. The Bosnian war is marked by a lack of closure, as Old Bridge acknowledges in the characters’ hunger to memorialise the ghosts of the past. Through simple tableau and five stunning central performances, Memic does justice to the things left behind.”

The Times: *** “There are two plays going on at once in Igor Memic’s award-winning debut, and one of them will linger in my head for a while. In Old Bridge, which won Memic the 2020 Papatango New Writing Prize, the British playwright goes back three decades to tell a love story set in his hometown of Mostar in the former Yugoslavia.”

London Theatre1: *** “The cast is talented and capable, with Emilio Iannucci as Sasha particularly shining as he brings us tomfoolery and tragedy in equally charismatic measures. Towards the end of the first act and into the second, the ‘real time’ scenes build power. When the action is more balanced and the characters have more to do than exposition, the play is affecting and compelling.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “Throughout the play, Old Bridge is seen as a symbol of division and unification, destruction and renewal. Memic gives us a powerful and moving reminder of the fragility of the peace that we take too easily for granted.”

Broadway World: **** “Memic has a second commission in his pocket and has shown a real aptitude for writing charismatic and credible young people. One looks forward to that next play with great anticipation – just leave the narration and exposition on the page.”

The Stage: *** “Igor Memic’s heartfelt if flawed debut dramatising intimate, often underexplored stories of Balkan life during wartime.”

Old Bridge will continue to play at the Bush Theatre until the 20th November.

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