From Morning to Midnight** (National Theatre Lyttelton, 27 November 2013)

Posted: November 27, 2013 in Theatre

After The Light Princess, this is the second successive production in the Lyttelton which begs the question as to whether the source material is really worth the enormous resources that the National has poured into it. Every inch of the width, depth and height of this huge stage is used for a production in which sets revolve, descend, collapse, ascend and move sideways. This is always inventive, often eye-catching and occasionally breathtaking: sometimes there is so much going on that it is difficult to know what we are supposed to be looking at, still less to concentrate on the play. This German expressionist drama by Georg Kaiser, dating from the early years of the 20th Century, is a very odd affair indeed. It deals with a lowly bank teller (played at this performance by Jack Tarlton) who abandons his post and his life of boring drudgery to abscond with a fortune, only to discover that there is nothing worthwhile for him to spend it on. As the title suggests, the action all takes place over the course of one day. The first half of the drama often resembles an absurdist comedy and Melly Still’s direction, incorporating mime and dance movement devised by the company, usually comes up with something imaginative or amusing to see us through the dull patches. Unfortunately, in the second half, a production that was always precariously balanced, topples over and becomes completely bogged down with social, economic and moral messages, all of which seem naive, dated and very obvious. So, the staging is spectacular and the acting is generally good, making the show intermittently entertaining but, ultimately, it is a ridiculously bloated production of a very small play which might have been seen in a better light if it had been staged on a smaller scale.

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