Absolute Hell Tickets
Lyttelton - National Theatre
This show is now closed.
Absolute Hell is an incredibly provocative play by Rodney Ackland. So provocative that it was labelled ‘a libel on the British people’ when it first hit the stage in the early 1950s. Now it's back, an intoxicating, emotionally charged and often brutal plunge into post-WW2 Soho, an era that was full of despair and longing.
It was, without a doubt, absolute hell. The period at the end of World War Two saw the nation in tatters, reeling from a merciless six years of pummelling by the enemy, with almost 384,000 British soldiers killed and countless civilian deaths. The action takes place in Soho, in a down-a-heel drinking den, a place in which the lost souls who drown their sorrows night after night are still suffering.
Absolute Hell is powerful stuff. Lying, fighting and seducing are all these lost souls have left as they struggle to lift themselves from the emotional rubble of war to a future that doesn't, to them, look particularly bright or make much sense. The drinking club's world-weary hostess Christine presides over all of this, as the club members drink themselves into a stupor in an effort to escape, and in the meantime they're hell bent on bitching at, mocking and destroying their fellow sufferers.
The wonderful Joe Hill-Gibbins returns to the National Theatre to direct this brand new production, which features an unusually large cast. The Associate Director is Jenny Ogilvie, also responsible for Movement. The set is designed by Lizzie Clachan and the sound by Paul Arditti. Nicky Gillibrand is responsible for the costumes and the lighting is by Jon Clark.
Harvey Brough directs the music and the production stars a host of brilliant actors including Esh Alladi, Elizabeth Andrewartha, Ashley Byam, Jonathan Coote, Rachel Dale, Carole Dance, Joanna David, Charles Edwards and Patricia England.
According to The Independent, this is “among the most convincing, moving pieces to hit London yet this year.", which bodes well for the play, which returns to the National after a break of 23 years.
Who is this show for?
This is a grown-up play for adults, exploring adult themes, so is not suitable for the under 16s.
27 Apr 2018
The National Theatre could do with another hit following a few dodgy productions whilst it’s been shored up by recent sure-fire crowd pleasers AMADEUS and FOLLIES.
This isn’t quite it but it’s a near miss, full marks for effort all round, and it’s well worth a long evening of your time.
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Lyttelton - National Theatre
South Bank, London, SE1 9PX
- Air conditioned
- Disabled toilets
- Infrared hearing loop
- Wheelchair/scooter access
- Capacity: 900
- Year built: 1977