Everyman** (National Theatre, Olivier)

Posted: May 12, 2015 in Theatre

everymanIt was a bad mistake see a play that I was always going to find difficult to engage with on the evening after the long night of the General Election. Performed on a blackened Olivier stage, Everyman is a version of a medieval morality tale updated to the modern day by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. The central character, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, is called by the Grim Reaper and sent on a journey to account for his selfish and debauched lifestyle before meeting his maker and seeking to pass through the Pearly Gates. Written in rhyming verse, Duffy’s language is modern, stark and often coarse. Looked at as a whole, it become difficult to see the play as anything other than a very long Sunday sermon. The stage presence of the charismatic Ejiofor is, inevitably, the biggest saving grace, but many imaginative visual touches in Rufus Norris’s production – ranging from a Bacchanalian orgy to a tsunami – also keep the interest alive. So, quite a lot to admire here, but, personally, I found little to like.

Performance date: 8 May 2015

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