Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Review: Photograph 51 at the Noel Coward Theatre starring Nicole Kidman

Photograph 51 
Noel Coward Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 14th September 2015

Following the success of his 2013/14 West End season, Michael Grandage has returned to the Noel Coward Theatre to direct the UK premiere of Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler. In a sensational return to the London stage, Nicole Kidman stars as Rosalind Franklin aka the woman who cracked DNA.

The piece sees rival scientists going head to head in a battle for recognition. It makes a refreshing change to see a play about science; I won't lie, the occasional line went in one ear and straight out the other, but Ziegler's writing isn't overly complex. Instead we learn a great deal about these characters, particularly Rosalind who puts up a strong front. 

Kidman commands the stage. She is strong and feisty, but not overpowering. Kidman delivers some whopping one-liners with such ease, she is absolutely captivating. Rosalind embarks on quite a journey; in the opening scenes she deals with sexism in the work place and as the piece progresses we learn of her heartbreaking battle with ovarian cancer.

Running for just ninety minutes without an interval, Photograph 51 certainly feels like a star vehicle for its leading lady. Nevertheless, there are some strong performances from the supporting cast which includes the likes of Stephen Campbell Moore and Will Attenborough

I took my seat at the Noel Coward knowing very little about Rosalind Franklin but found myself totally drawn into Ziegler's enthralling play (and spent my journey home scrolling through Wikipedia). Some of the final scenes are incredibly poignant, Grandage keeps things simple and Kidman never takes her performance a step too far.

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Photograph 51 runs at the Noel Coward Theatre until 21st November 2015.
Please visit www.michaelgrandagecompany.com for further information and tickets.

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