we round up the reviews for Omar Elerian‘s production of Eugène Ionesco‘s play.

(c)Helen Murray

The Guardian: **** ” It’s still a hugely exciting revival, exciting to watch, with two spine-shiveringly good central performances.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Magni and Hunter weave pure magic. Like Sedgwick, they are masters of physical theatre, but part of the wonder of The Chairs is that although they entirely welcome you into their imaginary world, their mime is not of the accurate LeCoq type.”

The Times: ** “Can a night at the theatre be tremendous and torturous? Fresh from seeing Omar Elerian’s beautifully acted and boldly staged yet ultimately badgering and befuddling new version of Eugène Ionesco’s 1952 play The Chairs, I’d say it absolutely can.”

Evening Standard: ** “The reason Hunter stands out in a largely disappointing evening, is that while everyone else draws attention to the arch, in-jokey nature of the affair, she plays each moment with unalloyed conviction. Maybe the secret of absurdism is to play it straight.”

Time Out: **** “But I had a blast: ‘The Chairs’ is funny, weird and wilfully awkward, and I think a director is left with the choice of treating it like a ‘50s museum piece, or updating frantically. And whether or not you think he made the right choice, any opportunity to see Hunter do her thing is always a treat.”

iNews: *** “Yet Hunter is mesmerising, her deep voice the cracked, throaty purr of a bronchial lioness, her eyes glittering with impish wit one moment and pooled with desolation the next. She rather outshines Magni – although her goading energy and his rudderless resignation are part of the dynamic, he sometimes wallows.”

Broadway World: **** “But it’s not all academic! Director and translator, Omar Elerian, takes plenty of liberties in his adaptation, adding contemporary references (one analysis of how we’ve created antagonistic cultural tribes recalled the celebrated “Forces of Anarchy” scene from The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin) and Magni’s flustered fussing and Hunter’s winning wit garner plenty of laughs. You need to buy into the conceit, but, once you do, these brilliant physical comedians give plenty back.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Elerian delivers a faithful revival of The Chairs that cleverly manages to further subvert Ionesco’s farce. He deconstructs every element of what makes a play to celebrate the magic of live theatre.”

The Stage: *** “Omar Elerian’s adaptation of Ionesco’s tragic-farce at Almeida Theatre is laced with catharsis and comedy.”

The Telegraph: ***** “The Almeida’s new staging of Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece betters even the Geraldine McEwan and Richard Briers staging of 25 years ago.”

The Chairs continues to play at the Almeida Theatre until the 5th March.