Review Round Up: Running With Lions, Lyric Hammersmith

We round up the reviews for Sian Carter’s debut play, now playing at the Lyric Hammersmith.

(c)Tristram Kenton

The Guardian: *** “Sian Carter’s debut play showcases her ample talent and places her squarely as a star in the making. It is gratifying too that this co-production with Talawa Theatre Company finds a home on a large stage, which it fills with power and pain but also sparks of joy.”

The Telegraph: *** “The writing could be tightened up, but this debut, about a family struggling to come to terms with a cruel bereavement, is stirring even so.”

Evening Standard: *** “Buffong’s deceptively laid-back production is staged on a star-studded set dominated by the encircling arms of a double staircase, and accompanied by vintage soul and doo-wop tunes. There’s something slightly old-fashioned, even naff, about the whole enterprise, but the core of it is mature and heartfelt. Carter came to writing through working as an assistant director. I can’t wait to see more.”

Time Out: **** “It’s a formidable debut from Carter, given the care it deserves by an excellent cast and creative team. If it is undoubtedly an old-fashioned play in a lot of respects, Soutra Gilmour’s set gives it a pleasingly surreal note, a circular performance space surrounded by inky darkness filled with twinkling stars. It gives just a little spike of edginess to ‘Running with Lions’, which is as fine and empathetic a first play as you’ll see all year.”

Broadway World: *** “Overall the play feels a little too long and certain scenes feel like plodding fillers, but it is rather remarkable that this thoughtful piece is Carter’s first play. It is not surprising that director Michael Buffong, who also directed the radio play, wanted to get it on stage, using Soutra Gilmour’s dark and efficient set surrounded by stars. An exciting and tender debut.”

Culture Whisper: ***** “Led by Buffong’s expert direction and Carter’s stellar writing, the theatre-makers here are at the top of their game. Every element of this production is beautifully rendered. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp. What more do you want from a living room drama?”

London *** “Soutra Gilmour’s twinkling revolve combines a naturalistic living room set with a hint of starry magic, and there is a real generosity to Michael Buffong’s direction: an evident affection for the text and characters and a desire to play it out towards the audience as much as possible — though his direction can feel a touch broad at times, with a few of the climactic moments becoming overwrought in their intensity.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “Running with Lions is at times overlong, but is well directed by Talawa Theatre Company’s Michael Buffong. Soutra Gilmour’s set is beautiful – a curved structure that suggests the encircling arms of the family, set against ever-present stars of hope.”

The Stage: *** “Sian Carter’s debut play at Lyric Hammersmith is a compassionate exploration of the complexities of family identity and grief, starring Suzette Llewellyn and Ruby Barker.”

Theatre Weekly: *** “The characters are well-rounded and the non-communication between the family often spot-on, with much of Carter’s dialogue cleverly intertwining with the things the protagonists purposely do and do not say to protect their emotions.”

The Times: *** “This hugely promising debut play by Sian Carter depicts three generations of a Jamaican-British family finding their way through grief, guilt and mental health problems. It lacks the plot to justify its two hours (plus interval) length — it first appeared on Radio 4 in a half-hour version and could lose almost that much from a sluggish first half — yet it has a rich empathy for its conflicted characters that will stick in the memory.”

Running With Lions continues to play at the Lyric Hammersmith until the 12th March.

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