Review Round Up: This is Not Who I Am, Royal Court Theatre

We take a look at what critics have had to say about this new play at the Royal Court Theatre….

© Manuel Harlan

WhatsOnStage: ** “There’s one beautiful moment in Lucy Morrison’s direction, a lynchpin for the couple’s story, involving a vase in the shape of a hare and some sort of physical-spiritual revelation, to which Anna Watson’s lighting gives a pink-misted horror. There’s no speaking in this scene, but it feels convincing and utterly engrossing. Much of the rest of the play feels taken up by the feat of its mismarketing and duty as a documenting exercise, but not in a way which yields anything of destabilising depth or surprise. We aren’t really taken anywhere.”

The Independent: **** “The playwright’s identity was subject to frenzied speculation, which was fitting for a play about online conspiracy theory-ism.”

Time & Leisure: **** “When a good many Covid-themed plays are lamenting the loss of human relations, this one embraces it and plunges headlong into all the new digitalised era entails – complete with Reddit posts, home recordings and YouTube videos. It touches on a plethora of topics both relevant and timely: but chiefly it explores how the conspiracy theories are being created and re-created and where in the rabbit hole lies the point of no return. After all, just because you seem more than slightly paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.”

Metro: **** “Still, until the climax this gripping show subverts theatre conventions so completely nothing feels trustworthy.”

The Guardian: **** “Rapture is about truth and power, with a visceral frustration at our cruel and incompetent government being just one of the many intricate layers of this mystery. But in text and direction, this play also delights in the way theatre is made, with visible stage managers constructing the version of reality Kirkwood wants us to believe. A heady production with stellar performances, Rapture is a thriller, a trickster, and an absolute romp.”

The Arts Desk: ** “The problem with publicity stunts like this is that, unless the play is a work of genius, the gimmick rapidly becomes tedious and irritating. It spoils the show. Anyway, the evening begins with a spoof public announcement which claims that the Royal Court apologizes for staging Rapture under false pretenses, but has been forced to do so because the Home Secretary has threatened to censor the explosive content of the show: yeah, yeah, pull the other one. And get on with it. Furthermore, the claim that the Royal Court is a heroic unpholder of the right to free speech and is breaking the law by staging Kirkwood’s play is ludicrous and not even smile-worthy.”

Time Out: *** “What does make Kirkwood’s play exciting is its unsettling, nihilistic anti-establishment message. It shows how inescapable tech surveillance has become, and how government agents embed themselves deep into any movement that threatens the status quo (as the real-life ‘spy cops’ scandal has shown). Does it feel dangerous enough to be something that would plausibly be censored by the government? No. But it’s an intriguing experiment that shows the all-too-real obstacles to making radical change.”

The Reviews Hub: ***** “Working together, the writer and director Lucy Morrison make thrilling theatre. Designer Naomi Dawson’s ingenious revolving set frames the claustrophobic world of a couple glued together, with the narrator and stagehands roaming around outside it to suggest constant intrusions on their privacy. Their minds become taken over by conspiracy theories and every conspiracy theory is seen to be part of a bigger conspiracy theory.”

Everything Theatre: **** “But for those who think it stays just on the clever side, it succeeds in being an incredibly interesting piece of theatre, one you’ll be thinking and talking about long after. Even the false ending is another lovely, unexpected twist, or maybe twists would be more precise. It’s a play that will probably divide opinion, but my feeing is that this is a great piece of work.”

Broadway World: ***** “There is no doubt this kind of metatextual playfulness will be confusing for some. But for those who speak the language of a generation cynically moulded by social media, confronted with anxieties about the future, climate change, housing crises, record numbers of mental health issues, socio-political divisions, culture wars, and general inescapable nihilism, its subversive flippancy will cut hard, fast, and deep.”

Evening Standard: **** “In Lucy Morrison’s pacy production the plausibly real (the couple’s struggle to conceive) co-exists with the wildly improbable (Noah persuades Essex locals to take part in a polemic docudrama he writes and directs). A daughter arrives, as does the pandemic, with its own shifting map of objective truth. Meanwhile, Naomi Dawson’s inventive set is rotated and re-dressed by stage managers, underscoring that we’re watching a fiction.”

The Times: * “Things seem to be going from bad to worse at the Royal Court. One dud has followed another. “

The Stage: **** “The Royal Court brings an unsettling production by ‘Dave Davidson’ that is not what it seems or what it advertised.”

This is Not Who I Am continues to play at the Royal Court Theatre until the 16th July.

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