Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE?

Thomas Ostermeier's production is now open at The Duke of York's Theatre

By: Feb. 21, 2024
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Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE?
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Making his West End debut, celebrated director Thomas Ostermeier‘s iconoclastic production of An Enemy of the People plays at the Duke of York’s Theatre is now playing for a strictly limited run. 

Matt Smith stars in the classic play by Henrik Ibsen. Doubt spreads faster than disease in Ibsen’s thought-provoking play about truth in a society driven by power and money.

So what did the critics think?

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE? Alexander Cohen, BroadwayWorld: As much as I admire the fourth wall shattering audacity, I also cringe. The lo-fi set stained in stylish graffiti gibberish on walls, the dad rock playlist and live David Bowie cover, the tacky paint fight, Ostermeier’s production is a bit too eager to be edgy in a midlife crisis sort of way.

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE? Sam Marlowe, The Stage: Smith rails against the narcissism and atomisation of society engendered by an always-online culture, and against social and economic inequality and hashtag politics – all sound stuff, but all bleeding obvious; the semi-articulated enthusiasm of the audience is equally predictable. None of it feels the slightest bit dangerous or provocative, any more than the onstage rehearsals of Thomas’ band, with their on-the-nose cover of Bowie’s Changes.

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE? Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage: The whole thing has a contemporaneity that makes it feel urgent, a tribute both to Ibsen’s prescience and to Ostermeier’s rigorous analysis of its relevance. If the ending is depressing, that is because it sums up so precisely the state of things.

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE? Clive Davis, The Times: The sad truth, however, is that Thomas Ostermeier’s sophomoric attempt to drag the Norwegian playwright into the 21st century is so clumsy it might almost be part of some sinister conservative plot to kill off left-wing theatre once and for all.

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE? Marianka Swain, London Theatre: Ibsen goes punk in German director Thomas Ostermeier’s shockingly audacious, fourth-wall-smashing An Enemy of the People. Adapted by Ostermeier and Florian Borchmeyer for the Berlin Schaubühne in 2012, and translated by Duncan Macmillan, it’s an eerily apt commentary on our current woes – and, thanks to a dynamite set-piece, is unlike anything else you’ll see in the West End right now.

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE? Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph: The polite-ish audience participation doesn’t fully mesh with the dramatic need for a gathering witch-hunt, however, and Stockmann’s up-to-speed analysis also doesn’t quite align with Ostermeier’s barely technological depiction of this backwater. He cleaves to Ibsen’s template of whistleblowing via local-press publication, missing a trick when it comes to incorporating the demented online realm and social media.

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of Matt Smith in AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE?
Average Rating: 56.7%


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