Wednesday, 27 May 2015

REVIEW - Everyman, National Theatre


RUFUS Norris has played a blinder with Everyman, his first offering as artistic director of the National Theatre.
A 15th century morality tale, Everyman is the story of a man, or woman, who is visited by Death and told he must prepare to meet his maker.
But instead of going quietly, he tries, unsuccessfully to enlist the help of his friends and family to stop it happening.
This current production on the Olivier stage has been jazzed up for the 21st century by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
And with a fabulous cast headed up by the award winning and Oscar nominated actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, a fantastic set, brilliant music and direction, it is a real corker.
It begins with a char woman, looking bored out of her brains, laboriously sweeping the vast expanse of the Olivier stage.
It soon transpires she is actually God, though she gives the impression of a drudge throughout the piece. She calls on Death to visit Everyman and give him the bad news.
Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the title role brilliantly. We first see him fall slowly from the ceiling on wires – the reason for which becomes clear at the end – and descending into a pit in the middle of the stage.
Then the music starts blaring out and he comes up with his posse to celebrate his 40th birthday with a rave in a club. Drink, drugs and rock n roll are the order of the day - that is until Death comes a knocking.
Pitching up in a forensic white suit, Death follows Everyman around like a bad smell as he tries in vain to avoid his reckoning, begging for help from those he knows.
It is a stunning production, by turns both hilariously funny and poignant and boasts a stellar cast. Stand out performances are those by Chiwetel, Kate Duchene as God and Dermot Crowley as Death.
If this is the kind of fare we can expect from Rufus Norris's tenure we are in for a treat.

Everyman is on at the National Theatre until August 30. Tickets from £15. Visit or call the box office on 0207 452 3000. It will be broadcast as part of NT Live on July 16.  

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