Review Round Up: The Circle, Orange Tree Theatre

We round up the reviews for Tom Littler’s production starring Jane Asher.

(c)Ellie Kurttz

Broadway World: *** “The production constantly straddles the line between farce and poignance without deciding which it prefers. In juggling all the themes none take the spotlight; the end result is a curious cross between The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Downton Abbey. Fun to watch yes, but overly cautious, especially when the play is populated by such colourful characters and ripe for serious cross examination.”

The Guardian: **** “Littler’s debut production as artistic director at the Orange Tree is strongly acted and nicely judged (jokes about dentures find a sympathetic audience), but also leans feelingly into the emotion. Asher and Le Prevost retain a seam of tenderness beneath their squabbling, while Ashmore suggests the unhappy toddler within the middle-aged man. Tears and tantrums are always close to the surface: following the heart’s demands is never easy.”

Theatre Weekly: “One unique aspect of this production is the fact that it’s staged in the round, due to the Orange Tree Theatre’s performance space. This works particularly well for The Circle, as it creates an intimate and immersive atmosphere, placing the audience right in the heart of the action. With no actor ever more than a few feet away, the audience feels like they are eavesdropping on the characters’ private conversations and secret machinations.” “Tom Littler directs an entertaining evening, one where the messy tangle of various love lives collide and comically play out. Love is complicated and The Circle understands this fully. The melodramatic tone of the play perfectly placing the show in 20s England and adding to the hilarity of the evening.”

Once A Week Theatre: “If Somerset Maugham’s work as a playwright is unfairly neglected, as director Tom Littler suggests, this revival of a play from 1921 should create a lot of interest. The piece is superbly crafted and hugely entertaining – I haven’t laughed so much in a theatre for a long time. And the production is excellent; overflowing with talent, it is a tribute to the text.”

London Theatre Reviews: **** “A largely successful display of the continued resonance of the century-old text, this production demonstrates that, with a worthy director and willing cast, The Circle is still well worth repeating.”

The Circle continues to play at the Orange Tree Theatre until the 17th June.

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