Thursday, 19 March 2015

REVIEW - Man and Superman


IT may be an epic and bladder-busting three hour 40 minutes but don't let that put you off seeing Man And Superman at the National.
The show, by Bernard Shaw and now on at the theatre's Lyttelton's stage is quite simply an absolute cracker of a production.
A romantic and provocative comedy, it features at its heart a fiery philosophical debate in which fundamental questions are asked about how we live.
John Tanner - an astonishing performance by Ralph Fiennes - is a celebrated radical thinker, revolutionary and rich bachelor.
However, he has been made guardian to the alluring heiress, Ann, played with delicious feistiness by Indira Varma.
Ann is in love with John but has to bat away the affections of poet Octavius Robinson (Ferdinand Kingsley) who has fallen in love with her and wants John to put in a good word for him.
John is scared stiff of commitment and being married off and so Ann sets about her challenge to tame him and coerce, bully and seduce him into marrying her.
Appalled at the thought, and tipped off by his chauffeur, John flees to Spain, where he is captured by a group of bandits led by Mendoza.
What follows next is an extraordinary dream-debate, heaven versus hell, in which John becomes Don Juan and Mendoza becomes the Devil and the philosophical debate is played out.
Back out of the dream John knows the game is up when he realises he's been followed by the resourceful and forceful Ann who, refusing to be put off and not giving up on her man, has followed in hot pursuit.
It is a masterclass by Ralph Fiennes who puts in a most electrifying performance as John complete with an air of the late Leonard Rossiter's Rigsby about him in the way he shows John's nervousness and anxiety.
He is supported by a stellar cast of which Tim McMullan's portrayals of Mendoza and the Devil were utterly brilliant, incredibly funny and a real stand out.

Man And Superman is on at the National Theatre until Sunday, May 17. Tickets from £15. Visit or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.
Man and Superman will be broadcast live in cinemas as part of National Theatre Live on May 14 at 7pm.

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