Splendour

Published August 5, 2015

What’s it all about?

Four women wait for the return of a dictator. There is a photojournalist, itching to get her shot of the absent tyrant. Her interpreter stands awkwardly by, filling her bag with whatever treasures she can get away with. The dictator’s wife plays her role, offering hospitality graciously, while her best friend plasters a frozen smile to her brittle face. Outside the grand room the sounds of war grow ever nearer as time ticks on and on and on.

Who’s in it?

This revival of Abi Morgan’s stunning thriller has attracted an equally stunning cast. Sinéad Cusack is outstanding as the perfectly composed wife Micheleine, Genevieve O’Reilly compellingly cold as the unflappable, emotionally detached photographer, Zawe Aston unpredictable and abuzz with energy as the desperate interpreter Gilma, and Michelle Fairley both delicate and steely as the grieving friend Genevieve.

But don’t let first impressions fool you in this clever drama. Each scene sees the reality of what has brought them to wait for the man in that room told from a different angle, as the scene is reset and replayed multiple times to give another woman’s internal monologue its voice.  

What should I look out for?

Each of the characters’ unveilings. Robert Hastie’s staging is smart, tense, evocative and simmers with danger as each of the four show their true colours.

In a nutshell?

Robert Hastie gives us a smart, tense and dark revival of Abi Morgan’s stunning thriller.

Who was in the press night crowd?

We spotted playwrights Nick Payne, Polly Stenham and James Graham alongside actors Tobias Menzies, Jade Anouka and Jeremy Irons.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

Slick, impeccably performed and elegantly complex, Splendour is a disjointed, vivid and evocative drama that demands your attention. Like a photo from a war zone, it’s dark, brutal, but you can’t tear your eyes away.

Splendour is playing until 26 September. You can book tickets through the Donmar Warehouse’s website.

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