Take a closer look at what critics have had to say about Dipo Baruwa-Etti‘s new play with our review round up.

(c)Marc Brenner

Time Out: *** “Although Touko’s production seems to end in a living evocation of the ‘this is fine’ meme – as the kitchen catches fire around the numbly oblivious cast – the play comes across as more blandly nihilistic than powerfully satirical. There’s so little integrity to any of the characters that it’s difficult to feel anything’s at stake when they do regrettable things: they’re all basically irredeemable. I guess this is in fact fine – as in, it’s basically pretty entertaining – but a couple of rewrites and a round or two with a dramaturg and it could have been so much more.”

The Guardian: ** “Its ominous signs lead nowhere, turning back into political argument as the plot yields one odd turn after another without delivering in its climax. Yet, incredibly, this drama never stops being absorbing, partly because of the calibre of performances; Obianyo and Berlin are particularly strong.”

Evening Standard: *** “Fractious family relationships are well observed in Monique Touko’s slick production at the Almeida. Baruwa-Etti skilfully blends big themes, authentically jagged and overlapping dialogue and a trademark hint of the supernatural. But the politics and the positions of the characters are too pat. The Clinic feels schematic compared to more audacious shows we’ve already had from this prolific 27-year-old.”

Louder Than War: “But what really pulled the whole thing together was the high quality of performance from all of the cast. Toyin Ayedun-Alase’s Wumni is strong, gritty and compelling from the outset. Donna Berlin plays Tiwa’s fluctuating strength and fragility to perfection, while Maynard Eziashi’s Segun delighted the audience with his dancing, and jokes about jollof rice before reverting effortlessly to the darker side of patriarchal Nigeria. Simon Manyonda’s comedy timing and delivery as Bayo was impeccable as was Mercy Ojelade’s portrayal of well meaning, but troubled Amina.”

The Reviews Hub: *** “The Clinic poses some interesting questions about the costs that activism incurs on the politically involved, the role of family in British black culture, and about the solidarity that the wealthy and successful owe to less privileged members of a systemically disadvantaged community.  Though never less than watchable, and with some laugh-out-loud comic moments, it sometimes feels like the writer is not giving his characters the headway they deserve.”

London Theatre.co.uk: **** “Handed perhaps the most challenging role, Ayedun-Alase morphs from bereaved sceptic through to unanticipated sex bomb, her ongoing fury at the cards life has dealt her unwavering even as her attitude towards her newfound shelter of sorts begins to swerve. The Clinic may not be the tidiest play you’ve ever seen but, among the current spate of early-autumn openings, it is easily the most entertaining.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “The Clinic is an ambitious undertaking, that never loses the attention, but it doesn’t make the impact Baruwa-Etti’s talent deserves. It’s big, bold and unruly, but not quite as focussed as it needs to be.”

West End Best Friend: *** “The performances from all six actors are grounded in naturalistic style and are fully believable in their motivation to protect what they have worked so hard to achieve. However, when it comes to solely the material performed on stage, it loses itself in metaphor for the emotional explosion at the end of Act 2 to achieve its full impact.”

Broadway World: ** “There is a very interesting play somewhere in The Clinic. But a lack of focus and clunky direction means you’ll be hard pressed to find it. Dipo Baruwa-Etti has crafted a concoction of issues relating to race, class, and the healthcare system. But with so many ideas and arguments crammed in, the result is a melodrama without breathing room to let its ideas flourish.”

The Arts Desk: *** “Dipo Baruwa-Etti pits a fiery outsider activist against the British-Nigerian middle-class.”

The Times: ** “A provocative question lies at the heart of Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s latest offering: how much common ground exists between black individuals at different ends of the class spectrum? What a shame the script doesn’t rise to the challenge.”

The Stage: *** “Dipo Baruwa-Etti delivers a glittering drama crammed with tart comedy, magical realism and incandescent social commentary.”

The Telegraph: *** “This new play about a middle-class British Nigerian family has a muddled plot and message, but it’s still well worth catching.”

Lost in Theatreland: *** “I really enjoyed the political debates interlaced throughout the script, but ultimately The Clinic has too many contending strands of storyline and leaves too much to the imagination, making suggestions to then never mention them again.”

The Upcoming: **** “The Clinic is phenomenally well written. Baruwa-Etti isn’t just a young writer to watch in the future, he’s one to watch right now. The blend of political ideologies and how they agree, tolerate or conflict with each other is powerful and interesting. Baruwa-Etti also does the small stuff interestingly.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “It’s a real shame as the opening half hour does show real promise, and the performances of a strong cast – Gloria Obianyo’s Ore (the doc) and Donna Berlin’s Tiwa (the mum) are particularly impactful – go a long way to covering the some of the cracks in Monique Touko’s production. But a tendency to melodramatic, in both staging and writing, means The Clinic never really hits the spot.”

The Clinic continues to play at the Almeida Theatre until the 1st October.


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