Review – Wild, Hampstead Theatre

Wednesday 13 July 2016

x5648-1465806377-solt500x500.jpg.pagespeed.ic.LN4plEMJNjMike Bartlett‘s King Charles III and his telly thingy Doctor Foster amused us so much we’d almost forgotten just how much we also loved his Cock.

Now, in Wild, he concentrates on whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked information of US mass surveillance programmes. He’s portrayed here as Andrew (Jack Farthing doing not unreasonable doppelgänger work) who we encounter awaiting an uncertain future holed up in a characterless Moscow hotel room (design Miriam Buether) where he’s visited by two enigmatic people, a man and a woman both claiming to be called “George”. Can he trust them? Are they here to help him, kill him, or just tease the hell out of him?

It’s a thriller/comedy of sorts; roughly one part to three parts respectively. Not much happens and there’s an awful lot of chit chat, yet we found it wholly engrossing and frequently very funny. This is largely due to Caoifhionn Dunne‘s tour-de-force as ‘Woman’ who claims to be Miss Prism or George Prism or one of the many names she throws at Andrew. We thought we heard someone warming up on stage before the curtain rose (star jumps?). It wouldn’t surprise us as Dunne struts around the stage contorting her face and body to extraordinary effect. It looks exhausting especially in those heels.

Was director James Macdonald‘s brief for her “hyperactive nut-job puppet that’s had a couple of strings cut”? Some may find her extremely irritating and it’s a spectacular performance that could so easily have tipped us that way too. Instead we found her playful, mesmerising and hilariously bonkers (just hear how she delivers the line about Cambridge University being “really hard”) and during the brief times she left the stage we longed for her return. Though this is not to undermine the impossibly tall John Mackay‘s creepily sinister ‘Man’/George II who has a fine line in making even confectionary seem threatening.

Farthing’s Andrew deals with playing a person who’s gone from the ordinariness of taking his girlfriend to KFC to being a globally-known fugitive in the space of a few days effectively, but his character remains a pretty blank canvas. We were very impressed by his dextrous folding of a piece of silver paper and as he is called upon to devour a plot point (a whole bar of chocolate) at every performance we marvelled at how he’ll keep his finely-honed body (which gets a considerable airing) finely-honed for the run.

There’s a very satisfying pop at actresses now being called “actors”, some nicely Russian branded items in the room’s mini-bar and of course the much-talked-about coup de théâtre. We cannot expand any further other than to say a bit of minor sloppiness from stage management semi-alerted Phil to part of it from the off (but this was because he was looking out for it). Though he still didn’t anticipate the full extent of it. We were so distracted when it occured we kind of lost the plot a bit. You will certainly leave the theatre talking about it.

A West End transfer would be well-deserved. The extra glass in our rating is not for the fact that it’s run straight through in 1 hour 50 minutes, or for that coup. Although it is in a sense. It is for Ms Dunne’s performance. She is a coup in herself. One way or another you will certainly leave talking about her too.

Wild has been extended until 23rd July.


2 Responses to “Review – Wild, Hampstead Theatre”

  1. badsneaker5 Says:

    I am used to the National giving us great productions, but Hampstead have outdone them with this twist in the tale.

  2. addictedtotheatre Says:

    I thought this was astounding. My only complaint was the coup de theatre was so extraordinary you stopped paying attention to what the characters were saying. Still, it is pretty refreshing after attending so many productions over the years to experience something you’ve never seen before.

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