The Greatest Play in the History of the World… review at Traverse, Edinburgh – ‘superb’
Everyone would be a lot happier if they had Julie Hesmondhalgh to tell them bedtime stories. Her husband Ian Kershaw’s lightly sci-fi love story has her narrate the goings-on in a normal street, drawing on the loveliest bits of life: falling in love, staying in love for 50 years, and finding a place in the universe.
Hesmondhalgh, in her beautifully soft voice, explains how two neighbours meet in the small hours of a morning when they can’t sleep and when time has stopped.
The Greatest Play in the History of the World is interspersed with voice-over about the golden records sent out into deep space on the shuttle Voyager containing snapshots – in music, maths, literature, science – from Earth.
Kershaw’s writing is just as wonderful when he’s talking about the huge unfathomable depths of space as in its more terrestrial moments, such as his descriptions of bins and Facebook neighbourhood watch groups.
Warm and comfortable, the play itself is just like the cuddly, bobbly cardigan Hesmondhalgh wears as she skips and pounces around the stage.
It takes great skill to tell a big story like this and to command the stage so effortlessly for more than an hour, bringing big bursts of life to Kershaw’s world. But it’s skill that Hesmondhalgh has in excess quantities.
Under Raz Shaw’s direction, she turns this tiny space, with its dark-blue spangled carpet, into an entire cosmos.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.