The battle of the Richard III's: Propeller vs Spacey
Top Girls not quite top play

Appreciating the fruits of Jude Law's labour: Anna Christie

ANNA-CHRISTIE-by_1968071b The new season at the Donmar has got off to a cracking start with Eugene O'Neill's tale about trying to escape the past - and not just because Jude Law has been working out, a lot.

Seaman Chris Christopherson (David Hayman) is reunited with his daughter Anna (Ruth Wilson), whom he hasn't seen since she was a young child in Sweden.

When Anna falls in love with Irish sailor Mat Burke (Law), who is rescued from a shipwreck by Chris, personalities and expectation clash and the past Anna thought she'd escaped from threatens to tear them all apart.

Ruth Wilson is the star in every respect. From the moment she steps on stage you get the impression this is a young woman who has already experienced too much in life. There is just enough feisty-ness and just enough vulnerability. By the interval I was already on the verge of tears.

Hayman is equally excellent as the father coming to terms with his choices and the impact they have had.

And then there is Law. It's very easy, as an appreciator of a fine male form, to get side-tracked by his physique in this. He has been working out and spends much of his first scene topless. But in the context of the play it fits with the persona of Mat. He's an Irish sailor who not so much wears his heart on his sleeve but wears it in his whole physical behaviour. He dances when he is happy and violently bangs and smashes furniture around when he isn't.

When he is angry with Anna you know that he could smash her to smithereens  but Mat can't be a complete boar, he also needs a cheeky charm to woo Anna and Law is superb at both.  My only slight quibble was his accent which sounded, to me, just a little Caribbean at times.

Aside from the superb acting the Donmar has once again done much with its little stage. In fact the stage does something which I never knew the Donmar stage could actually do but I won't spoil it. The production design succeeds in bringing a sense of life on a sea barge into the theatre.

Anna Christie is another corker from the Donmar. It's a tense, emotional and engaging piece well executed and despite the accent issue I can't say anything bad about it. It's getting five stars from me.


After researching the Kevin Spacey connection for my Richard III review yesterday there is second degree link with Anna Christie: director Rob Ashford was in Beyond the Sea with Mr Spacey.

And I know Poly doesn't think this is a good link but it's my game and my rules, I'm going to say Michael Billington because he was sat next to me and as far as I can tell has reviewed most of the plays Mr W has been in. He also gave Anna Christie five stars, by the way.