Wednesday, 1 July 2015

‘Everyman’ – Olivier, National Theatre - Monday 29th June 2015

(Rated 7/5 )
When you’re feeling down and bombarded by the passing of some loved-ones and worried to the core by other loved-ones’ difficult circumstances, do you really want to go and see a morality play about death and be challenged by that?! Well I wasn’t sure but I went anyway and I was thoroughly moved and uplifted by it! It took me out of a kind of numb detachment to highly sensitive connection to all feelings in our human toolbox and a sense of amazement and joy of being.
Chiwetel Ejiofor – the man who performed my most favourite piece of emotive expression as Othello breaking down at the Donmar Warehouse - does it yet again as the Everyman of the title in this superbly clever updated version of a 15th century morality play by Carol Ann Duffy. He is supremely stunning as he conveys his character’s journey from materialistic 40-year old - throwing money at everything to buy things, people, make him feel good, to generally fix things without any insight into the issues truly affecting our world – to awakened enriched soul. Like so many of us blinkered by wanting to ‘enjoy’ life without any thought for the consequences he ignores current issues concerning the environment, the amount of rubbish we create, poverty, the impact of his self-absorption on others… Yet in facing death – in the form of Dermot Crowley with a Roy Cropper-style tote shopping bag – and God incarnated as a cleaning lady; played by Kate Duchene who opens the play - in addition to a highly talented cast of ‘Fellowship’, ‘Senses and Wits’, ‘Kindred’, ‘Goods’, ‘Knowledge’ – in the form of a down-and-out Penny Layden and perhaps most poignantly touching his younger self ‘Everyboy’ – he finds understanding, transformation and in some ways makes amends and instead of fighting and railing against death he come to peace with it/him.
The staging and production are tremendous! Of greatest note the tsunami which affects performers and audience alike. I couldn’t breathe! I really enjoyed Carol Ann Duffy’s rhyming script accompanied by the music of William Lyons.
I admit I went in order to get to see Chiwetel giving his goods again – in the hopes that he may come close to his best – if possible he exceeded that with his outstanding expressiveness, but also I came away with so much more. Of course this is a play about the meaning of life and a psychological journey. It is about our morals! It is about the meaning of life and learning in the face of death and our beliefs around that final curtain.
Do go see – you will not be disappointed!

Everyman – Review by TheRestrictedReviewer © 2015

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