Review: Flash Gordon sets, Harry Potter and Hanging in Damned by Despair @nationaltheatre
Review: Not quite so sound effects in All That Fall at the Jermyn Street Theatre

Were the critics damning of Damned by Despair?

158512_2_previewHaving followed what can only be described as furore on Twitter about the National Theatre's latest production at the Olivier, Damned by Despair, I've been curious to see how the critics would react.

I liked it and gave it four stars for which I've publically been described as 'mental'. Not everything is to everyone's taste and that is fine but the degree of hatred for this play has been quite astounding especially as I can't quite get to the bottom of what people actually didn't like (@polyg has written a very good post 'In Praise of Bad Productions' over on her blog). It's another reason why I've been curious to read the reviews.

Michael Billington in The Guardian writes a perceptive and balanced portrait giving it three stars commenting on the odd set for one while enjoying the subtleties of Molina's story about forgiveness and redemption.

Paul Taylor is less appeased in the Independent describes it as a 'rare turkey for the National', he thought the modern gangster scenes sat uncomfortably with the more ethereal religious elements.

In The Telegraph Dominic Cavendish also gives it three stars describing it as "fiendishly simple while devilishly provocative" but had a problem with the modern interpretation and the impact that had on the central story.

In the Daily Mail, Quentin Letts who's not shy of giving a one star rating gave it big fat raspberry describing it as "cheesy" for reasons I can't quite discern.

And finally What's On Stage's Michael Coveney gave it three stars with readers giving it just one star. He said it made for "an awkward, demanding, sometimes bathetic night in the Olivier" describing the set as "gloomy" and that the production "shows signs of faltering self-belief and loose ends after rough cuts in previews."

I may be slightly biased because I liked it but I more inclined to accede to the negatives criticism of those that have offered a balance view than those who have berated, generally without giving much by way of a good reason.

Perhaps I should write to Nicholas Hytner and offer my four stars for the posters - he could probably do with a bit of cheering up after all this animosity or perhaps, like actors, he doesn't read reviews. With the numbers that have been reportedly walking out at the interval and the lack of any glowing praise from official sources I wonder whether this might have its run curtailed. Do they do that at the National?