5 June 2023
PATRIOTS (Noël Coward Theatre) Review
This is the West End transfer of the production that ran at Almeida last year (reviewed here). Both the play and the staging have been tweaked a little (including some changes in the cast), but remain largely unchanged, so the original review still very much applies.
The production mostly transfers well into a very large theatre, but it does lose a degree of intimacy that worked so well at Almeida. Furthermore, the speed at which the actors speak seems to have gone up a fair bit. Sitting in the balcony, the combination of quiet and rapid meant that a lot of effort went into keeping up with the dialog.
Peter Morgan’s characters are all internally consistent. Tom Hollander shines as ever. His Berezovsky is a busybody who not only likes his fingers in every pie, but also actively wants to take a big bite out of Russia. It’s a character everyone loves to hate. Will Keen’s Putin is just as eery as he was at Almeida: he is a giant snowball everyone can see but can’t imagine turning into a deathly avalanche. Luke Thallon’s Abramovich links the two together in a more understated way than in reality.
It’s a strong story and an excellent exploration of what patriotism really means to different people and how quickly it can turn good intentions into disaster and suffering.
Cheapskate enjoyment value: £8.