Review Round Up: Here, Southwark Playhouse

Find out what critics have had to say about Clive Judd’s debut play which won the 2022 Papatango Prize.

Broadway World: ** “Yet, Judd’s a talented writer. His dialogues are natural and vivid, but lead to very little. His exchanges are as quick as his silences are Pinteresque, but his sometimes overly poetic turns of phrase clash with the vernacular. The relationships he creates are poignant, but left unexplored. His characters are trapped inside their own limited lives, unable or unwilling to escape them.”

Everything Theatre: **** “This is an absorbing and moving play that deals intelligently with ideas of memory, seen and unseen connections, and the difficulties of articulating feelings. It’s a very enjoyable watch with splendid performances, and is highly recommended.”

The Arts Desk: * “One can see potential in this play, particularly in the good-natured bickering that is too soon abandoned, but quite how the Papatango jury shuffled this entrant to the top of its pack is inexplicable. It gives me little pleasure to write so negative a review for a first-time writer, but the contrast with another debutant, Philippa Lawford, whose brilliant new play, Ikaria, as garnering super reviews at The Old Red Lion Theatre, could not be more marked.”

Evening Standard: *** “It’s not perfect: Birmingham-based Judd, a theatre director himself as well as a bookseller and prose writer, has a better command of character and mood than plot. The slow smoulder of suggestion about the secrets and unhappiness that beset the family doesn’t end with a satisfying enough bang. Even the cast seemed uncertain whether the play had finished last night. But Papatango has once again identified a talent worth watching.”

WhatsOnStage: ** “It’s not that Judd can’t write: there are some tartly funny one-liners and this dysfunctional family sounds suitably authentic, plus there are a couple of striking individual speeches that might work out of context as audition pieces. The best of these, Monica’s vitriolic rejection of the kids and ever younger teachers she works with as well as her daughter’s unsuitable girlfriend, delivered with relish by Benjamin, has genuine shock value in the depth of its venom, and coruscates an otherwise inert scene. Mostly though, it’s hard to escape the impression that, while unfinished sentences and suppressed, unexamined feelings may well be the basic tenets of family life, they have little theatrical currency when presented so baldly on stage, and the random bunging in of some ghostly, mostly unexplained, stuff at the end of each act, does not equal satisfying drama.”

All That Dazzles: *** “Here is an overall enjoyable watch, albeit a slightly inconsistent one. It is full of moments of brilliance, with some truly great writing and characters you find yourself completely invested in. However, its downfall is in its inconsistent nature with extreme variances in tone regularly jarring in nature, and a problematic set design that can’t help but take the shine off what is a show with huge potential.”

The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “As emotions rise, there are moments that feel over-dramatized and stylised. Judd clearly has great ambition and has attempted something here that brings together the working-class environment of a family home in the Midlands with a slightly more classical dramatic touch. When the drama begins to break out from the realism of the everyday however it can feel slightly jarring and doesn’t quite hit the target. There’s a sense that the playwright felt he needed to escape the mundanity of the domestic environment to express a higher meaning, whereas he had already demonstrated its inherent depth through the strength of the play’s earlier moments.”

London Theatre1: ** “The play does, to its credit, steer clear of having a sudden, critical incident that immediately and irrevocably changes the lives of its characters, and it is realistic to expect, particularly in a British family, some humour to permeate through difficult conversations and situations.”

The Stage: *** “Hauntingly beautiful drama of family secrets.”

Here continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse until the 3rd December .

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