Reviewed on Tuesday 24th November 2015
The team behind The 39 Steps have brought Ben Hur to the stage. Adapted from General 'Lew' Wallace's novel (and reminiscent of the 1959 movie), Tim Carroll's production transports the audience to a weird and wonderful version of ancient Rome.
I love a good 'play within a play', and Ben Hur goes further than The 39 Steps by drawing extensive comedy from the four actors running around like headless chickens playing countless roles. In the second act their personal lives add to the drama, creating some of the evening's funniest moments.
There is still some tweaking to be done, but Patrick Barlow's script is very witty whilst Carroll's staging is terrific. The first act dips several times, but (with a little help from the audience) the act one finale is quite something whilst the second act sails from strength to strength.
The cast of four are a total dream, showcasing immense versatility and impeccable comic timing. In particular John Hopkins (who plays the title role) throws himself into every moment and somehow prevents himself from peaking too soon - Hopkins, Alix Dunmore, Richard Durden and Ben Jones do a stellar job and must go offstage and collapse after each performance. They work so unbelievably hard!
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Ben Hur runs at the Tricycle Theatre until 9th January 2016.
Please visit www.tricycle.co.uk for further information and tickets.
Photo Credit: Mark Douet