Thursday 28 December 2023

The Motive And The Cue - Review

Noel Coward Theatre, London


Written by Jack Thorne
Directed by Sam Mendes

Mark Gatiss and Johnny Flynn

The National Theatre production has just decamped from the South Bank to the West End and on seeing this play for the third time, like a fine wine it has only improved with the passing of time.

Jack Thorne’s writing is beyond flawless. The perceptive sensitivity with which he pinpoints the passionate, complex relationship between Sir John Gielgud and his direction of Richard Burton in Broadway’s 1964 Hamlet is modern writing at its finest. A carefully curated confection of nuance, rage and pathos sees these two giants subject Shakespeare’s finest play to moments of the most intelligent analysis, with just a twist of heartbreaking humanity too.

Thorne’s words are brought to life by Mark Gatiss as Gielgud and Johnny Flynn as Burton, the same actors who created the roles. They were brilliant when the show opened 8 months ago and are even better now, the chemistry between the two men proving electric. Tuppence Middleton as Burton’s wife Elizabeth Taylor has equally grown into her pivotal role.

Es Devlin’s intriguing set design has transferred well from the Lyttleton - however its automation at the Noel Coward is a tad noisy, that at times is a small distraction.

The Motive And The Cue remains essential drama, exquisitely performed. Unmissable.

Runs until 23rd March 2024
Photo credit: Mark Douet

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