Review Roundup: DAYTONA at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Review Roundup: DAYTONA at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Maureen Lipman and Harry Shearer join Oliver Cotton in the West End transfer of his play, Daytona. Directed by David Grindley, Daytona opened performances at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 30 June and will complete its strictly limited 8 week run on 23 August 2014. Press night was 7 July 2014.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

Michael Coveney of whatsonstage: It's a marvellous, moving play not a whit dwarfed by its grandiose new surroundings. In fact, the edges and currents are sharpened and deepened on a raked stage with functional design by Ben Stones...Maureen Lipman and Harry Shearer... renew their Park performances with interest... lost love in aSliding Doors scenario, poignantly encapsulated in one of several vivid long speeches... beautifully articulated by Lipman, quivering on the brink of split love-loyalty... At the Park, Shearer's Joe was hung out to dry on the sidelines. The Haymarket re-focus suggests something altogether different: a life of real heroism, romantic and practical, that trumps the other two... Cotton has written himself a two-reel role that could only be bettered in performance by Jeff Goldblum.

Lyn Gardner of the Guardian: It's a potentially interesting dramatic premise full of moral conundrums, but Cotton makes very little of it, aside from giving himself the opportunity to make speeches so long that I began to wonder if he was trying to break some kind of record... Now it's Lipman who gets to make the very long, very significant big speech... Lipman gets the opportunity to remind us what a fine and subtle actor she is... she is understated, and all the more moving for it. It is a performance that balances intelligence and feeling in a way that the play singularly fails to achieve.

Henry Hitchings of the Evening Standard: David Grindley's careful production can't obscure the play's weaknesses. It's a clunky mixture of love story, historically charged Arthur Miller homage and winsome picture of seniors savouring their dance steps.Its lengthy monologues meander, exposition takes too long and the big revelations are predictable. Daytona is overstuffed, and a lack of focus means it never drives home any of the points it seems interested in making.

Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph: I worried that this three-handed piece, which proved so powerful on the fringe, would seem overexposed in the far larger and plusher Haymarket, but its sturdy, well-made strength and manifest humanity ensure that it works just as powerfully at its new address... It remains, however, a nightmare to write about. There are two big reveals in the play, and since the second of them occurs after the interval, it is one I can't divulge without being drummed out of the Critics' Circle.

Paul Taylor of the Independent: The trouble, though, is that far too much is schematically signalled and fails to ring true. The characters do certain things (the wanted man request a climactic ballroom dance exhibition from the other two. say) not from plausible motives but to serve the creaky dramatic structure. The best parts are the long set-pieces which almost made me feel that, given Cotton's gift for these, the story would have been better told as interwoven monologues.

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