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, 5th Oct 2012 by sally

This is the the third appalling production that I have walked out of in a month ( not all at the National! ) - I am so angry that this sort of work is being allowed to go on at the National - a total waste of our money and Arts council grants-

There is so much brilliant work in london's small fringe Theatres that cannot find any funding, how can this execrable production can see the light of day in a prestigious theatre ..?

    Friday, 5th Oct 2012 by Jerome Major

Where did it all go wrong?

My first doubts crept in when I saw the production poster. There's just something really obvious about a lone figure standing atop a rocky outcrop, with his fists clenched, gazing solemnly into the distance.

But then I saw that the set is also very rocky and the first speech of the play is made by a bloke who seems to have climbed to the top of a rocky outcrop...so there's that.

His speech was very important. But he didn't care so neither did we. In fact, lots of people on stage didn't really care about what they were talking about.

I started to doubt myself. Was I being too cynical. I wanted to like it but as someone at interval so aptly put it, "I liked the words but that's about all."

Anyway, lots of really silly things happened in the first act and it seemed to just get sillier. I was almost tempted to come back at interval just to see if the director really could reach the rocky outcrop of ridiculousness. But my girlfriend said no. She was really mad. I mean it is the National and the Olivier at that. We pay taxes!

If you can get a free ticket, go see it for an idea of what not to do. But make sure you're near the isle at the back so you can sneak out when things get really bad and you can't stomach it. About 12 mins in.


    Friday, 5th Oct 2012 by John McRae

I agree with previous posts - one of the very poorest productions I have ever seen: a dire version of the play, full of clanking cliches, horribly miscast (Bertie Carvel as the"worst man in the world" - with that camp voice!) Unutterably turgid, poor effects, bad direction and acting. Appalling that the NT, which has been doing so well this year, should stage such a turkey. A lot of people left at the interval - they were the lucky ones.

    Thursday, 4th Oct 2012 by G Dowler

In 30 years of theatre-going this production ranks as one of the most inept I have ever seen. An appalling version my Mcguiness is badly (over)-acted and enunciated as if it were a 4th form drama reading. There is spectacular mis-casting afoot. The entire concept shows what contempt the director has for the playwright, clearly mistrustful of an old play which is therefore tarted up in all the yawn-inducing cliches of modern theatre direction given too much tax-payers' money. Everything bar poetry, understanding and srtistry in fact. Extraordinarily awful, the first half stretches into infinity. I cannot comment about the second. Never has a play been more aptly titled; it is to be avoided like tooth extraction without anaesthetic. Keep your money, buy a proper version of the play to read and you'll still have the cash for supper.

    Thursday, 4th Oct 2012 by G-Man

Agree with everyone else. This was a shockingly terrible production. I don't think I have been so tempted to walk out of anything in my life. The play itself seems totally irrelevant to a modern audience, so why someone would take the time to translate and stage it in the first place seems ridiculous. The translation itself at times felt literal with modernization of the text despite the modernization of the setting. I am still at loss as to when this was suppose to be set, at one point characters are dressed 16th clothing with swords and then then jeans and guns suddenly appear. it looked like someone had gate crashed the play. the sound levels were off meaning much of the dialogue was lost either to the back of the stage or under music. The audience laughed in the wrong places such as "tough gangster" Enrico pulling a gun out of his purse and the ending lines "god works in mysterious ways" and "It's all true". All round terrible experience.

    Thursday, 4th Oct 2012 by Jean

We were responsible for two of those empty seats in the second half, I'm afraid - the first time in my life as an ardent theatre fan that I didn't return after the interval.

The standard of performances were poor- much of the dialogue was inaudible and unintelligible.

    Wednesday, 3rd Oct 2012 by James

Terrible. Laughable. Cringey.

I think the director thinks he is the West End answer to Baz Luhrman doing Romeo and Juliet. He isn't.

It would be a mistake to go and see this.

    Wednesday, 3rd Oct 2012 by David

Ashtonishingly inept. Non-existent characterisation (a gangster as menacing as my cat), gross miscasting, hammy and often just bad performances, and lots of shouting and pointless 'choreography'. I've seen better amdram. I was waiting for a drama teacher to shout '...and rest!' I don't think the scene where a lowlife was brutally drowned and beaten was meant to be so funny - it was like a scene from Father Ted.


    Wednesday, 3rd Oct 2012 by Seb

One of the worst theatrical experiences for me in recent memory. Performances were weak, many were hopelessly miscast and the direction seemed pretentious and ill-considered. The decision to transcend eras and settings was particularly jarring.

Adding set failure with flaps on a truck swinging all around the place, a suspended light that caught on fire in Act 2 and an uncomfortably long wait for a harness to be fitted to one of the leads, this felt like an absolute car crash of a show with no redeeming qualities.

It is no surprise that there were so many empty seats in the house following the interval.

    Tuesday, 2nd Oct 2012 by John

I am stunned. Stunned. Tonight's outing was the worst theatrical experience i have ever endured. Director Bijan Sheibani needs to shake up his cast and remind where they are and what they are doing.

Energy levels were at a minimum, diction and projection was poor and everyone appeared to be "phoning it in". I was deeply disappointed with this production and honestly cannot find anything positive to say about it.

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