Theatre Review: Enlightenment

Posted on: 27 October 2010 by Alexander Hay

An intriguing idea fails to come to fruition in Shelagh Stephenson’s topical but tired new drama Enlightenment (Hampstead Theatre), directed by Edward Hall in his first season in charge.

A gap-year student travelling to the Far East, disappears, and his parents are in limbo. Unsure who to turn to, or even whether he is alive or dead, they frantically seek clues, comfort and strength. But as the truth emerges, a net of lies and deceit – darker than anything they had imagined – begins to close in around them.

Although the subject matter here is topical and there are echoes of Harold Pinter, this emerges as an over-wordy, issue-based, superficially fashionable play, fatally lacking in tension and with a disappointing, open-ended conclusion.

Meanwhile, the gleaming white, sterile London apartment, initially resembling an Ikea showroom, is striking but tends to distract from the story and characters.

What maintains the interest are the fine performances from Julie Graham and Richard Clothier as the anxious, middle-class parents; Tom Weston-Jones as a deranged, delusional young man who turns up at their household out of the blue (I will not reveal why) and Daisy Beaumont as an obnoxious film maker.

By Laurence Green

Plays until Saturday.
Box office: 020 7722 9301
Press: 020 7704 6224

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