Review Roundup: A VERY EXPENSIVE POISON At The Old Vic
The cast includes Thomas Arnold, Tom Brooke, MyAnna Buring, Callum Coates, Marc Graham, Amanda Hadingue, Yasmine Holness-Dove, Lloyd Hutchinson, Robyn Moore, Peter Polycarpou, Sarah Seggari, Michael Shaeffer, Reece Shearsmith, Gavin Spokes and Bea Svistunenko. A Very Expensive Poison opens at The Old Vic on 5 September with previews from 20 August. Book tickets here!
A shocking assassination in the heart of London. In a bizarre mix of high-stakes global politics and radioactive villainy, a man pays with his life. At this time of global crises and a looming new Cold War, A Very Expensive Poison sends us careering through the shadowy world of international espionage from Moscow to Mayfair.
John Crowley (Brooklyn, The Goldfinch) directs Lucy Prebble's (The Effect, ENRON) reimagining of Luke Harding's jaw-dropping exposé of the events behind the notorious death of ex-FSB Officer Alexander Litvinenko.
Marianka Swain, BroadwayWorld: How theatre should, or should not, be addressing Brexit is a constant topic of conversation. But while Lucy Prebble's phenomenal new work - a combination of horror, espionage thriller, love story and satire, with dazzlingly theatrical framing - doesn't centre around the B world, it is, unquestionably, the play for the present moment.
Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk: This is an evening that is as devastatingly moving as it is bitingly funny, anchored by two exceptional performances from MyAnna Buring as Marina Litvinenko (pictured below, left) and Tom Brooke as Alexander Litvinenko. It is Buring's sparkily intelligent, wittily no-nonsense Marina who guides us through the story that no-one could quite believe when the couple first presented themselves in 2006 at the Barnet and Chase hospital, with Alexander apparently suffering from gastroenteritis.
Michael Billington, The Guardian: Watching Lucy Prebble's fascinating new play about the murder of Alexander Litvinenko on British soil, I was frequently reminded of her earlier hit, Enron. Prebble once again bases her play on fact, tells a complex story with great clarity and adopts a variety of techniques, including direct address, puppetry and song, to create a uniquely theatrical spectacle.
Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out London: 'A Very Expensive Poison' is a balancing act that sometimes feels on the verge of collapse. Prebble has bitten off more than she can chew, but she's done it with her eyes open, and has smartly counterweighted the mad stuff with the Litvinenkos' story. It's a play that dares to mirror the absurdity of the world - and then push back against it.
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: Is the state-sponsored assassination of former FSB officer, defector and Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 a laughing matter? Lucy Prebble's new play, A Very Expensive Poison, based on the 2016 book of the same name by intrepid journalist Luke Harding, seems hellbent on having audiences rolling in the aisles and planting an odd taste in their mouths.
Tim Bano, The Stage: But this isn't a piece of journalism shoved onstage. It's not a political play in any conventional sense. Instead, she and director John Crowley have created an utterly unique piece of theatre that flitters through all the ways you can present truth and tell stories, and tries to understand the overlap between the two.