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What's On



Published Wednesday 28 February 2007 at 12:25 by Jeremy Austin

Yeah, yeah - so, Harry Potter gets to flash his other wand around a London stage. Excitement over. Do not let the hype and the hyperbole detract from what is a competent performance in Shaffer’s possibly most powerful play.

Daniel Radcliffe acts with intensity as Alan Strang, the troubled 17-year-old old at the heart of Shaffer’s tale of sexual awakening, fetishism and the emptiness of a modern, godless world.

His energies are so focussed within the character, they almost glow, Potter-like, from within - his arms locked firmly by his side, his voice almost without pitch but cracking with teenage angst and emotion. Unlike many stars of the big screen, he has the ability to expand his range and fill a stage.

It helps that opposite him, Richard Griffiths as Martin Dysart, the psychiatrist to whom Strang is sent after blinding six horses, gives a performance that is so effortless, so natural. It is a truly remarkable piece of work.

So active is the chemistry between these two characters that the rest are somewhat diluted. Strang’s parents, Frank and Dora - played by Jonathan Cullen and Gabrielle Reidy - are quickly sketched, he a disciplinarian old-school socialist, she a smothering god-botherer. Jenny Agutter finds similar problems with Hesther Saloman, the magistrate who brings Strang to Dysart, but little more than a plot device.

Faring better is West End debutante Joanna Christie as Strang’s girlfriend, Jill Mason. Her Jill is coquettish, flirty, and not a little sexy.

All is performed on John Napier’s evocative in-the-round set - part Victorian lecture hall/operating theatre and part altar, it is a powerful metaphor for the action taking place within.

But this is Radcliffe’s moment, and he shows the potential for real magic on a stage.

Production information

Gielgud, London, February 27-June 9

Peter Shaffer
Thea Sharrock
David Pugh, Dafydd Rogers
Cast includes:
Richard Griffiths, Daniel Radcliffe, Jonathan Cullen, Gabrielle Reidy, Jenny Agutter, Joanna Christie, Colin Haigh
Running time:
2hrs 40mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014