We take a look at what critics have to say about the new play by Ellen Brammar, playing at the Kiln Theatre until the 15th July.

© Tom Arran for Middle Child

WhatsOnStage: **** “The show’s real success is in portraying the lives of those she inspired but for whom existing is hard – the Bessies and Franceses. They are the real stars. And in today’s world, the ones still struggling.”

The Guardian: **** “Brammar’s script shines in its humour, especially sending up the whiskered men of the RA. “We are men,” they sing and fall into laddish pub-style chanting. The same shtick continues throughout the show and it never fails to amuse.”

Evening Standard: ** “The songs (A Talent Like Me, Bossy Women) are as heavy-handed as the social commentary. But the overall sense is of randomness, of decisions made by default rather than with purpose.”

Theatre Weekly: “directors Luke Skilbeck and Paul Smith keep the production feeling energetic and empowering throughout.  All of the cast, with the exception of Dineen, multi-roll and sometimes at furious pace.  It’s very well executed, and the audience are brought in on the joke on more than one occasion.”

London Theatre1: **** “Perhaps because of its hybrid nature, it’s difficult to know quite how much dramatic licence has been used – how acerbic were the putdowns by the old guard at the Academy to Thompson? One or two drew audible gasps from some in the audience. But Thompson is not presented through rose-tinted lenses in a ‘warts and all’ account. Best enjoyed if you’re looking for something quirky and unique.”

Culture Whisper: ** “On the plus side, Modest does offer a glimpse into one interesting episode in the history of art, and the consistent sidelining of women within it. However, despite the cast’s spirited performances, there is a whiff of am-dram about the whole enterprise.”

The Arts Desk: ** “On storytelling, character development and nuance, it is two and a half hours that goes nowhere. On representation, audience appeal and addressing past injustices, well, the reaction in the house to this Middle Child and Milk Presents collaboration will confirm that the job is done.”

London Theatre.co.uk: *** “Still, there’s no denying that the play knows its audience and that its drag king-inflected playfulness is one way of putting across points of view that, in other hands, might seem merely a staged thesis. The climactic rallying cry prompts a cheer – and reminds us that the work of the revolutionary is never done.”

British Theatre Guide: “If, in the end, the play does any more than deliver this reminder, it says something about human nature, foremost its predisposition for self-preservation and to resist change. If Modest is to succeed in getting across its message, it will have to prevail over these in order to be heard by those not sitting in the choir.”

Time Out: *** “Still, ‘Modest’ is distinctive in its acknowledgment of sexism across the centuries. And kudos to Fizz Sinclair – her performance is wondrous ecstasy as she lip-syncs and morphs from one character to the next. It might not be faultless – but ‘Modest’ is a quick-witted, bawdy, diamond in the rough.”

To book tickets visit: https://kilntheatre.com/whats-on/modest/


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