We round up the reviews for Marina Carr’s play, playing at the Almeida Theatre until the 18th November.

(c)Marc Brenner

Broadway World: **** “It’s an intricate odyssey into the turbulent mind of a raging woman who can’t let go of her past, a remarkable revival that features an immense central performance.”

The Guardian: **** “Carr’s language is lyrical too, violence and loss seeping into every interaction. Cracknell’s assured production rests on the twisted idea that the closer you are to someone, the deeper your love and hatred for them are intertwined; Portia grasps at her mother, her father, her husband, needing them close even as she spits that she despises them.”

Evening Standard: *** “Cracknell’s production is atmospheric, all half-light, squalor and cigarette-fug. She draws deliciously awful performances from Mark O’Halloran as Portia’s weak, creepy father, Sly, and Sorcha Cusack as his vicious, wheelchair-bound mother Blaize.”

The Independent: *** “‘Conversations With Friends’ star Alison Oliver is moodily compelling as a dissatisfied mother haunted by her dead twin, but Marina Carr’s play is anti-climactic.”

Time Out: **** “It’s all so richly layered, not least the performances Cracknell brings out of a crack cast led by Alison Oliver, sullen and slumping, permanently drunk, but never comically so.”

The Telegraph: ** “The Conversations with Friends actress is a revelation – but the Almeida’s staging doesn’t make the case for reviving this now-clichéd play.”

London Theatre.co.uk: *** “Oliver’s commitment to the depressive drear of the character is impressive, though you do wonder what a more naturally energised performer like Denise Gough must have brought to the part in a separate Abbey Theatre revival of this play in Dublin early last year.”

All That Dazzles: **** “Startling, genuinely disturbing, and anchored by Alison Oliver’s incredible central performance, Carrie Cracknell’s Portia Coughlan cements the play as a modern classic worthy of such an anticipated revival.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Some will find it too oppressively bleak; there is very little in the way of hope or redemption, and Cracknell doesn’t attempt to gloss this over. But once it takes hold it becomes a compelling and irresistible portrayal of a woman in freefall, and the people helpless to catch her. Its status as a modern classic seems assured.”

West End Best Friend: **** “This expertly directed production of Portia Coughlan confronts difficult emotions in a way that is both moving and impactful, and poses questions that are as pertinent now as they’ve ever been. It is a piece of theatre that challenges the audience and makes us feel uncomfortable in the most necessary way.”

The Reviews Hub: *** “Cracknell’s approach has some very funny moments drawn from the community around its central character, particularly Sorcha Cusack as Portia’s crabby grandmother and Kathy Kiera Clarke as a former prostitute settled in the village, and Oliver’s Portia really does find all those notes of misery. But it’s a shame this production tries to play them all at once.”

The Stage: **** “Wrenching, atmospheric revival of Marina Carr’s still-shocking story of generational trauma in rural Ireland.”

To book tickets visit: https://almeida.co.uk/whats-on/portia-coughlan/


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