Last night we were at the opening for the revival of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s Apologia. Directed by Jamie Lloyd, the cast is led by the inimitable Stockard Channing and features Laura Carmichael, Freema Agyeman, Desmond Barrit and Joseph Millson. The play is a searing dissection of family and the pressures that exist within this universal dynamic. When Stockard’s character Kristin Miler publishes her memoir, the tensions that already exist within the family are brought to the fore.
Photo: Marc Brenner
Jamie Lloyd’s direction
Jamie Lloyd has a well-earned reputation as one of the West End’s most exciting directors and Apologia is another masterclass in exploring complex relationships. Under his direction there is palpable tension that hangs over the play, almost as if it’s another character. Few directors are able to tease out heavy emotion like Jamie, from understated to catastrophic, Apologia has it all.
It really is a treat to see Stockard Channing on stage. Best known as fiesty Rizzo from Grease, and First Lady Abbey Bartlet from NBC’s The West Wing, Stockard is a commanding presence as celebrated art historian Kristin, managing to evoke sympathy from the audience, whilst being brutally outpsoken against her son’s girlfriends, harshly critising those whose views do not align with her own. Stockard will be the name on everyone’s lips, but all cast members gives excellent performaces, with Laura Carmichael nailing the bubbly, glass-half-full American physiotherapist.
Read our interview with Joseph Millson, who plays Peter/Simon in Apologia.
Alexi Kaye Campbell’s play, first performed in 2009 at the Bush Theatre, is fast-paced and sharp, full of humour and wit. Yet there are moments where the pace slows right down and draws the audience in; Stockard has a fabulous monologue about why Giotto is the most important artist to her. And there are laughs to be had that couldn’t have been foreseen in 2009. Trudi (Laura Carmichael) exclaims ‘we [America] have just elected our first African-American President!’; her enthusiasm is met with Kristin’s dry ‘let’s see what happens in the long run before we get too excited’, drawing one of the biggest laughs of the night.
Photo: Marc Brenner
Apologia runs at Trafalgar Studios until 18 November. Tickets are available via Official London Theatre, so get booking…