Damned by Despair Reviews - Olivier Theatre, National

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Venue Information
Olivier Theatre, National

Olivier Theatre, National
South Bank

Seating Plan


(10mins) Follow signs for exits to the South Bank. This should lead you to an underground pedestrian passage called ‘Sutton Walk’ that emerges at the South Bank. Turn right and walk along the river Thames until you see the National Theat

Show Information
Booking From: Wednesday, 28th November 2012
Booking Until: Thursday, 13th December 2012
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday 2pm and Sunday 2.30pm
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.30pm
Show Status: production_closed
Review Summary
Average Rating: 2.4 out of 5 stars based on 20 review(s)


Latest Review: "I am not certain I can give a fair review of this play because my wife and I left during the inte..."

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    Friday, 19th Oct 2012 by Brian Everitt

I am not certain I can give a fair review of this play because my wife and I left during the interval (which seemed an age in coming); we were not alone. This play purports to deal with serious issues like redemption and tries to pose some potentially interesting moral dilemmas for the audience to pober. Sadly the writing and production is at the level of a second rate student production and difficult to take seriously. There is no wit, there is nothing profound to consider and ponder on. Enrico has to convince the audience that he really is the personification of evil (but he does love his old dad!) but his voice and manner fails miserably-I thought he would not even be able to harm a kitten.

Finally to summarize this play is dull as ditchwater, the language is very very poor, the ideas naive and the entertainment value is zero Stay in and watch Coronation Street-it has more insights into life and religion than this dog's dinner manages.

    Saturday, 13th Oct 2012 by Clive Johnstone

Now let's be positive. Once you realise how appalling this production is, you can enjoy the comfort of the Olivier's seats and have a nice snooze. After all the actors are largely so inaudible you won't be disturbed.

    Friday, 12th Oct 2012 by Mazeppa

Loved this so much - a truly compelling exploration of key issues for humanity - well done to NT for staging it. Why are so many people being negative? my theory is - they don't like the direct way this play challenges us about the dilemma of good works versus faith. They're used to a comfortable evening when they can give scores for the acting and the sets, and feel in control - and this amazing C17 Spanish masterpiece is taking people out of their comfort zone.

    Thursday, 11th Oct 2012 by Alex

Worth seeing for the powerful message that love is superior to religious doctrine. The haunting singing by the boy soprano, the excruciating public hanging and the flames of hell are all memorably theatrical.

    Wednesday, 10th Oct 2012 by Thea trebuff

Well you bunch of curmudgeons: a night out on Travelex that starts at seven, is finished by ten past nine, has an interval overlooking this fair city's river and is by no means the worst play or production you could currently see, especially that has Frank Mcguinness attached.

The only reason you could be so vehemently opposed is if you have faith because it basically takes the pessimistic but standard view that redemption is open to, as ever, all, however nasty.

    Wednesday, 10th Oct 2012 by David B

The most recent reviewers must have seen a different play (or have a vested interest).

Never have I witnessed such a shambles in a theatre. The audience voted with their feet in the interval.

Some worthy actors must be wondering what they have done to their careers. Nobody joins a poor production willingly, but this was unremittingly jaw-dropping for all the wrong reasons.

Pretending it's really a camp comedy just won't wash. I'll be surprised if it lasts the month (though I doubt the National will have the guts to pull the plug). Irredeemable, I'm afraid.

    Monday, 8th Oct 2012 by Teresa Brown

No technical problems - bar overloud music occasionally - and the cast have definitely warmed up going by What previous reviewers experienced. I agree that it's an odd play to put on (but isn't that part of a National Theatre's job?) and the staging and costuming don't seem to go together, and the text also seemed to grind gears in changing tone, but: Bertie Carvel makes a good psychopath, Sebastian Armesto suffers well and I was genuinely moved by both characters' fates. See it for the meatier second half.

    Sunday, 7th Oct 2012 by Steve

I was almost put off going to this by the preceding reviews, but I am glad I used my ticket. The technical problems that so bothered earlier reviewers have been sorted out, and although there were some audibility problems (not at all uncommon if you sit in the circle) I found the play odd but entertaining and thought-provoking. The theme of routes to salvation may not appeal to everyone, but it is what 17th century Spaniards cared about, and I enjoyed discovering what they had to say. The staging, especially in the second act, was rather thrilling, with ascents into heaven and descents into a flaming hell, but most of the earlier reviewers would have been home by then.

    Sunday, 7th Oct 2012 by Hispanophile

Don't pay too much attention to the reviews above. Although this isn't Tirso's best play, which is The Trickstet of Seville, it has many of his best qualities: lyrical poetry, fast action, comedy and drama and powerful characterisation (Enrico is a splendid character). This production is surprisingly faithful to the original, and although not all the acting is great and the evocation of Naples lapses into cliche, the powerful moral dilemma at the heart of the play (it is forgiveness that saves) comes across with memorable clarity. A surprising choice for the National but definitely worth seeing.

    Saturday, 6th Oct 2012 by Vaughan Bhagan

Having read and agreed with most of the reviews I add that my anger was aimed at the NT, who have invested scarce resources both human and financial in this travesty. There are so many off-west end productions and theatres that are wonderfully creative and are crying out for funding. I despaired at all the choices made by the powers that were... for they MUST have all seen the emperor wore no clothes!!!!!

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