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Review: Max Irons in Farragut North at the Southwark Playhouse

FarragutImageHe was the charming, womanising medieval King Edward in the small screen adaptation of The White Lady but now Max Iron's has turned his attention to a charming, potty-mouthed political PR in Farragut North, the Beau Willimon play currently in preview at the Southwark Playhouse.

There are no swords and and armour here instead the characters use rhetoric and guile to manipulate voters in a Democrat caucus.

Irons plays Stephen the bright and talented communications manager whose loyalty to his campaign manager, Paul (Shaun Williamson), is tested when the campaign manager of the rival candidate offers him a job.

Willimon's script is sharp and punchy and deserves a delivery to match. This is play of high drama and tension and the soupçon of nerves visible from the cast (this was the first preview) only added to the atmosphere.

Irons' Stephen oozes the necessary charm to make his success and confidence believable but it is as things start to fall apart that we see a darker less composed and ultimately more interesting side to the character. There were a couple of forgotten lines but it is nonetheless a convincing performance, winning the audience over despite the characters obvious flaws.  And, no doubt, he will relax and gain more confidence as the run progresses.

Williamson has big shoes to fill as Philip Seymour Hoffman took the role of Paul in the recent film adaptation of the play: Ides of March. Barry from Eastenders is never going to step up to that performance but he was solid enough if a little too affected at times.

Director Guy Unsworth has made a curious decision in having junior PR Ben (Josh O'Connor) play quite a bumbling, slow on the uptake character at the start. It's good for laughs but it makes his transition steeper and I would have preferred to see him be a little more obviously calculated from the outset.

Rachel Tucker is great at the manipulative and sassy journalist Ida and Aysha Kala came into her own in the second half as the flirtatious intern Molly. Overall this is a cracking play, solidly if a little nervously performed at the small but perfectly formed Southwark Playhouse. With the action taking place just feet await you can't help but be drawn into the world and web of political deceit.

Irons looked visibly relieved to have got the first performance under his belt - it was like he suddenly remembered to breathe at the curtain call. Next week I'm lucky enough to be seeing it again and will be interested to see just what the cast can do when feeling a little more assured and the tension is solely reserved for the drama of the play.

Farragut North runs in The Large at Southwark Playhouse until Oct 5.

Stan's Southwark Playhouse comp:

First person to spot my chair gets a bag of chocolate buttons (I want photographic evidence).


As it's Max had to find a connection, which wasn't difficult considering the huge White Queen cast but my two favourites are Rupert Graves was also in Sherlock with Andrew Scott who was in Cock with Mr W. And Leo Bill was also in Girl With a Dragon Tattoo with Daniel Craig who was of course Bond to Mr W's Q.