Review Roundup: FATHERS AND SONS at Donmar Warehouse
Donmar Warehouse opened Lyndsey Turner's FATHERS AND SONS by Brian Friel, on 10 June. It stars Anthony Calf, Elaine Cassidy, Caoilfhionn Dunne, Susan Engel, David Fielder, Joshua James, Karl Johnson,Tim McMullan, Jack McMullen, Siobhán McSweeney, Seth Numrich, Phoebe Sparrow, and Lindy Whiteford.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Michael Coveney of whatsonstage: Lyndsey Turner's spring-heeled, beautifully acted production creates a real sense of a new Chekhov play without losing Friel's individual stamp, so that the play's rhythm and melancholy seems entirely new-minted, more so than it did at the National Theatre in 1987 with a cast including Alec McCowen, Lesley Sharp, Ralph Fiennes and Richard Pasco.
Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard: Joshua James... here comes of age. Two years out of drama school, he gives a performance of extraordinary tenderness and detail... Seth Numrich... captures the contradictions of this gifted orator who defies his own principles, and makes him seem an exciting embodiment of the desire to challenge orthodoxy ... There are plenty of other appealing performances, with Lyndsey Turner maintaining her fine record as an incisive director of ensembles ... Yet aside from James and Numrich it is Karl Johnsonwho makes the keenest impression... Brian Friel's adaptation takes some liberties with the original Turgenev novel. Yet this is exactly the kind of piece that the Donmar Warehouse does well, and here there's a deeply satisfying mix of soulfulness and elegance.
Michael Billington of the Guardian: Seth Numrich brings out Bazarov's youthful impetuousness, dogmatism and contradictory ability to undercut his rationalism by falling in love with a salon sophisticate. But Friel's version subtly suggests that his companion, Arkady, is no less compelling: he is beautifully played by Joshua James as the loyal follower who spouts his leader's message but who knows that deep down he himself is an unreconstructed liberal.
Charles Spencer of the Telegraph: Lyndsey Turner, who had such great success with the award winning play Chimerica, once again proves superb at bringing a large cast of characters to vivid and often disputatious life, with the mood turning on a sixpence between laughter and pain.
Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail: Mr Friel gives us much of the satisfaction of a Chekhov - the nostalgia, the gathering doom, the frustrated loves, the rural claustrophobia with a family network - yet we are subjected to many fewer Russian names. And no mention of a samovar!
Paul Taylor of the Independent: Though he could afford to be more abrasive, Numrich splendidly captures the charisma and the smug more-radical-than-thou manner of this figure who repudiates the entire system and his gabbling confusion when his certainties are briefly toppled by a romantic passion for the rich, sophisticated and tightly controlled widow, Anna (excellent Elaine Cassidy).