Review Round Up: Eureka Day, Old Vic Theatre

Take a look at what critics have been saying about Jonathan Spector’s comedy, playing at the Old Vic Theatre until the 31st October.

(c)Manuel Harlan

British Theatre.com: ***** “So we know where we are: joyfully satirizing middle-class liberal-cum-hippie angst, parental protectiveness and the age of offence-taking, as in beloved recent comedies like God of Carnage and Clybourne Park.  But as it heats, the focus shifts to the even more topical theme: digital misinformation, rumour and fake news getting indiscriminately sucked in and solidified into identity politics.”

Evening Standard: **** “Although Oscar-winner Helen Hunt is the big name in Jonathan Spector’s sly US comedy about freedom and tolerance, it’s really an ensemble piece where the star is the incisive, witty script.”

London Theatre.co.uk: **** “Katy Rudd’s crisp production is beautiful paced, and Rob Howell’s design has a neat double meaning. At first you take pleasure in its colourful stick-figure children all holding hands; later, it looks horribly like the swift transfer of infection in an unvaccinated community. And of course, all of this hits home post-Covid; terms like “herd immunity” are particularly charged.”

Time Out: *** “Enjoyable as Katy Rudd’s production is, though, I found ‘Eureka Day’ a slightly frustrating watch. Put simply, it’s a West Coast US play satirising West Coast US attitudes. I’m sure somebody coming from further to the right than me might see it as a satire on liberalism generally, and they’d not be entirely wrong. But I just found Don et al’s attitudes so absurd – and the set-up so distant from how the British schooling and class system works – that as something of a classic liberal myself I felt totally let off the hook. Look at these ridiculous Americans, doing ridiculous American stuff!”

WhatsOnStage: **** “The cast is led by Oscar-winner Helen Hunt making a finely-etched London debut as the patrician Suzanne, who fails to recognise her own prejudice and sense of entitlement under a blanket of concerns about equality and making space for all. She’s more than matched by Susan Kelechi Watson (of This Is Us fame) who is wonderfully subtle as Carina, a woman struggling to make a different view heard in a space that is delineated by unacknowledged privilege, and gradually finding a way to challenge the idea that individual choice always trumps the public good.”

Broadway World: *** “Eureka Day isn’t short on laughs but the writing leaves something to be desired. May and Eli are severely underwritten and the vibrant subplot around their affair disappears quickly in the second half.”

theatre.revstan.com: ***** “Helen Hunt might be the biggest name on the poster, but this is a brilliant ensemble piece; it is sharp, funny, interesting and current.”

The Arts Desk: *** “Can a play peak too soon? That’s the quandary that attends the Old Vic airing of Eureka Day, Jonathan Spector’s on-point if overextended comedy that was written prior to the pandemic but has absolutely come into its own just now. A skewering of liberal pieties that puts one in mind of a fellow theatrical satirist like Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park), Eureka Day takes few prisoners on the way to a flat-seeming ending.”

The Upcoming: ***** “Eureka Day comes with trigger warnings, which the theatre makes very clear in the programme and on its website – however, these triggers are dealt with in a sophisticated and moving way, giving the audience room to connect with the characters’ feelings. It is amazing to see some of these previously taboo subjects starting to enter the realm of theatre to be explored on-stage. If theatre continues to move in this direction, it will be nothing short of a miracle.”

The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “Eureka Day is often very funny, but it doesn’t always get the balance between comedy and drama quite right.”

The Telegraph: **** “Eureka! Have they got it? Is our theatre finally awake to the ludicrous – and also pernicious – side of woke? To me, it feels like a turning-point that the Old Vic has ushered on to its stage Eureka Day, Jonathan Spector’s very sharp, very droll satire on the duplicities and deficiencies of progressive group-think – first seen in the States in 2017.”

The Stage: ** “Helen Hunt stars in a thin comedy about dissent among Californian liberals at London’s Old Vic that never hits home.”

London Unattached: “This is a brilliant two-hour production with electrifying performances from all the cast. The tight script covers considerable ground and successfully manages to weave in a winning combo of ideological warfare, humour, compassion and grit.”

Culture Whisper: **** “If anything, the play’s distance from the disease which ground our own lives to a halt, and ended the lives of those less fortunate, allows us to enjoy its ridiculing all the more keenly.”

Lost in Theatre Land: **** “The ending of the show was slightly anticlimactic and didn’t fully make sense in regards to Carina’s character development. But, all in all Eureka Day is a hilarious show with a deeper meaning cleverly interwoven throughout the script. There are still some tweaks required for the overall play to feel as satisfyingly good as the first Act did, but this play is an enjoyable watch. Plus Kelechi Watson’s performance is simply astounding, she really is the star of this show.”

Eureka Day continues to play at the Old Vic Theatre until the 31st October.

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