Excerpted from: A Three-hour Bum-number by a German Gas Bag: Schillerís 'Mary Stuart' at the Almeida Reviewed, Plus: Yasmina Rezaís 'Art' at the Old Vic Is Theatreís Holy Grail Ė a Play For People Who Dislike Theatre

The Spectator, 14 January 2017
By Lloyd Evans

Matthew Warchusís beautiful production is stark, restrained and wonderfully stylish. Sex god Rufus Sewell (Serge) reveals himself as a comedian of sly and sinuous abilities. Even the playís flaws work in its favour. The banter between the male chums doesnít quite ring true because real men tend to use taunts based on bedroom inadequacies, on genital shortcomings, on latent homosexuality, on closet paedophilia, that kind of thing. These men are too sophisticated for that. Their readiness to insult each otherís wives feels wrong as well.

But it makes no difference because the characters arenít males at all so much as human abstractions. Any cosy clique facing an unexpected upheaval would implode in the same way. They might be a school gang bickering at a bus stop, or business pals learning to accommodate a new partner, or a world-famous band discomfited by the lead singerís incoming girlfriend. One thinks of Yoko and the Beatles. This is the playís strength and its universality. The final scenes include a pair of superb visual gags and a shocking emotional reversal that reinforces oneís belief in humanity and the power of friendship.

Every positive word said about this amazing play is richly deserved. A wonderful show. And brief too. About 85 minutes. Hence its claim to be the holy grail.

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