When it debuted almost ten years ago in Dublin, Splendour reviews were jubilant. Finally, Abi Morgan's play about four women waiting in a room comes to London to open the starry new season at the Donmar Warehouse.
Splendour play: Donmar Warehouse revival
Set in the lavish surroundings of a palatial drawing room in an unnamed country, this arresting four-hander intercuts dialogue with interior monologues to increasingly disquieting effect. A photojournalist has come to take a picture of a dictator and together with his wife, her friend and an interpreter, four women await his arrival.
There's no linear structure and parts of scenes are repeated with different characters delivering the lines. The dialogue spirals, repeating the same moments but intensifying and expanding the story with each repetition, so the women's exchanges bristle with an increasing brittleness and occasional cracks of tenderness.
The play itself takes a while to hook us, and even then we found ourselves willing the plot forward. It's clear that the pressure cooker single room scenario must break and the increasing sense of unrest beyond the room had our hearts hammering. But amidst the drama there are plenty of baggy moments that left us cold and made our minds wander. There's ample to enjoy in Splendour, but we can't help thinking that it could benefit with being wrung out and edited a little more.
Donmar Warehouse: Splendour cast
There isn't a weak link in this all female cast and captivating performances all round make humans out of characters that could very easily feel shallow. We were particularly impressed by Genevieve O’Reilly, who is magnetic as whip-quick, withering photojournalist Katherine, and Sinead Cusack who made the first lady figure both steely and raw.
Abi Morgan - writer
Master of plays, TV, and films Abi Morgan has both an Emmy and a BAFTA to her name. She's penned the script for blockbusters including the film Shame (starring Michael Fassbender) and BBC hits The Hour and Birdsong. Morgan's most recent play was The Mistress Contract (Royal Court, 2014). Splendour offers a welcome opportunity for London audiences to discover an early gem from one of our most prominent screenwriters.
Richard Hastie - director
Rising star Robert Hastie directs. An associate director at the Donmar, he previously directed the theatre’s hit production of My Night With Reg which was much deserving of its West End Transfer.
|What||Splendour, Donmar Warehouse|
41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9LX | MAP
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
30 Jul 15 – 26 Sep 15, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£7.50 - £37.50|
|Website||Click here to book via the Donmar Warehouse|