Hare’s script is subtle yet intricate, but it is the presentation of the narrative that leaves a lasting impression. Icke focuses in with camera-like intimacy on two couples braving their way through a Connecticut winter storm. Entering the 1960s home, Donald Dodd (Strong) and wife Ingrid (Hope Davis) console Mona (Debicki) after realising Ray, her partner and Donald’s best friend, has been lost in the blizzard.
Known for creating and sustaining rich atmospheres, Icke delivers a cold and crisp portrait of east-coast America. Donald Dodd’s increasingly uncertain life is presented in episodes with a gothic sensibility, each scene tightly framed and trapped.
Strong’s Donald is complex and calculated: fumbly, safe, but with an undercurrent of jealousy that crashes over his tranquil life. So convinced by his own delusion, Strong gives Donald an earnestness hard not to pity. Davis and Debicki effortlessly encapsulate their characters. Davis gives Ingrid a steely gaze and an exacting voice, but brings some deadpan delivery for comedic relief. Debicki drifts about her Manhattan penthouse in an elegant indifference that masks her self-preservation.
Only the occasional party scenes, glimpses of an external world, feel a bit underdeveloped. The slow and steady tempo Icke injects into the dialogue is at first slightly laboured, but finds its pace later on.
The Red Barn is a visually mesmerising experience and demonstrates how cinematic theatre can be. Alongside compelling performances and purposeful direction, David Hare’s new play is sure to delight and unsettle.
|What||Review, The Red Barn: National Theatre|
South Bank, London, SE1 9PX | MAP
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
06 Oct 16 – 17 Jan 17, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£15 - £60|
|Website||Click here to book via the National Theatre|