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A review round-up for Apologia at Trafalgar Studios, London

Stockard Channing leads the cast in Jamie Lloyd’s revival of this comically dark family drama by Alexi Kaye Campbell.

Better known to UK audiences for The West Wing, The Good Wife and Grease, Stockard Channing is no stranger to the stage having been nominated for 7 Tony Awards, most recently for It’s Only a Play and Other Desert Cities on Broadway.

As we watch her monstrous Kristin give way to grief and the price she and those she loves have paid for her actions, one thing is assured, Stockard Channing doesn’t disappoint! Whether it’s the narrowing of the eyes or a withering put down – this is a stage actress.

Wholeheartedly supported by a strong cast ‘Laura Carmichael is a revelation'(Evening Standard), ‘Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who’s companion) is a delight as the narcissistic soapstar’ & ‘Joseph Millson is excellent as both siblings’ (Independent).

The plays larger political ideas about the relationship between feminism and social progress doesn’t seem to hit the mark for Henry Hitchings (Evening Standard) and Andrzej Lukowski (TimeOut). And Michael Billington (Guardian) found Campbell’s equation of extreme radicalism and rudeness hard to swallow.

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See our round-up of reviews below.

Apologia runs until 18 November 2017 at Trafalgar Studios.

REVIEWS ROUND-UP

STAR RATING Evening Standard

‘Stockard Channing is superb’

‘The calamitous dinner party may be an overused theatrical trope but this one has plenty of bite.’

‘Channing revels in her fierceness — words are her weapons, yet it’s her gaze that’s truly devastating.’

‘Laura Carmichael is a revelation as Peter’s seemingly insipid American girlfriend Trudi.  Carmichael captures her mixture of pious sincerity and gaffe-prone awkwardness.’

‘[The play’s] larger political ideas about the relationship between feminism and social progress don’t quite land. But this revival, though restrained by the standards of usually flamboyant director Jamie Lloyd, has a satisfying vividness.’

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

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STAR RATING The Independent

‘This is a .. play that gives everyone their moment of revelation’

‘Laura Carmichael (of Downton Abbey fame) develops beautifully from an irritating cheer-leader who is always putting her foot in it to a person who can offer Kristin genuine empathy.’

‘Freema Agyeman (best known as Doctor Who’s companion) is a delight as the narcissistic soapstar’

‘Joseph Millson is excellent as both siblings, bringing a quiet, devastating pathos to a set-piece’

‘Stockard Channing’s performance is magnificent as we see the monstrosities give way to the tearful grief of fully recognising the price that has been paid and the stand she was forced to make’

Paul Taylor, Independent

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STAR RATING Time Out

‘[Jamie Lloyd’s] revival … feels like an incongrously middle aged return, with only a pinch of his usual stylistic pizzazz’

‘[The play]attempts to tie Kristin’s apparent failings as a parent – and indeed, human being – to her unwavering belief in her fiercely feminist ’60s ideas, which she’s simply unable to set aside. Something about it just doesn’t hit home though’

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut

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STAR RATING The Daily Telegraph

‘(Channing] has most of the best lines of the evening, Kristin displaying an almost Lady Bracknell-esque ability to scrutinise and find wanting those who come within her gaze. It’s a gaze magnificently communicated in Channing’s withheld performance, so that even when she’s doing no more than narrowing her eyes, or letting them lose focus and wander, she speaks volumes of irritation and contempt.’

Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph

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STAR RATING The Guardian

‘Channing is a serious, intelligent actor and even induces sympathy for the character of a seemingly monstrous matriarch. Yet her presence involves some necessary rewrites and can’t entirely resolve the contradictions in Campbell’s play.’

‘I question Campbell’s assumption that leftwing militancy is incompatible with good manners.’

Michael Billington, The Guardian

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STAR RATING

‘a fascinating play that tackles, head on, the subject of women, ageing and motherhood’

‘directed with flair by Jamie Lloyd, …It is eviscerating and funny, if at times wordy’

‘But the star is Channing: there is nowhere for her to hide and she is quite brilliant.’

Ann Treneman, The Times

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