The Red Barn

And so to my final play of 2016: before heading up north for Christmas, I went to the National Theatre to see the production of The Red Barn, a play by David Hare based on the novel La Main by Georges Simenon.

It’s a claustrophobic thriller, but it doesn’t always work on stage. Robert Icke’s production uses the movable “curtain” of the Lyttelton to “zoom in” on particular scenes of the drama: the effect is striking but the problem is that in a theatre, with audience members sitting at all angles, some of the action is always blocked for somebody. Still, it was an unusual feature and full marks for trying.

Elsewhere, the performances are high quality, particularly from Mark Strong as the tortured character learning about his own personality and from Elizabeth Debicki as the wife of the dead man.

The story itself starts off well, and finishes with a bang – but the middle part does tend to drag a bit. Overall, though, it’s a strong effort, originally staged, and worth a watch.

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