The Human Voice - Harold Pinter Theatre

The Human Voice review round-up, starring Ruth Wilson at the Harold Pinter Theatre ★★

Reviews are in for Ruth Wilson starring in a revival of The Human Voice at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.

Ruth Wilson, two-time Olivier Award winner and star of TV series The Affair, stars in a revival of Jean Cocteau’s one woman play The Human Voice at the Harold Pinter.

This searing story of a woman’s heartbreak over the course of a final phone call with her former lover, reunites director Ivo van Hove (A View From The Bridge, Network, All About Eve) and Ruth Wilson, following their award-winning production of Hedda Gabler.

Ivo van Hove is an award-winning director who is currently rumoured to be directing Ben Stiller in The Shining, in a new West End production based on Stephen King’s classic horror novel.

Running for only 31 performances, the play ends on 9 April 2022.

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Check out reviews from all of the major UK press, including the Evening Standard, Guardian, Telegraph and Times.

Average Critics Rating

The Human Voice reviews

The Times

"Modest monodrama is crying out for a splash of colour"

"Ruth Wilson is on stage for all of 70 minutes, chatting ever more frantically down a phone line. Fine actress though she is, she can’t salvage a piece that — written nearly a century ago — remains an exercise in stagecraft rather than a compelling dark night of the soul."

Clive Davis, The Times
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"Despite Ruth Wilson’s spirited performance, Cocteau’s 1930 phone monologue feels dated and sexist"

"Van Hove has modernised the setting and I’m not sure why: it’s pretty odd splicing a feisty, noisy soundtrack including Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ onto a dialogue about where to keep the ashes of your burnt billet-doux. And the play’s comments – complaints really – about the newfangled technology of the telephone are fairly ho-hum, they don’t shed any light on our era’s convenient yet alienating dating and tech hook-ups, and give the impression of having been dashed off after a frustrating night trying to dump a lover. Wilson, Cocteau and Van Hove are all the elements you need for an incredibly classy night but for me it was an evening of crossed wires and bad connections."

Caroline McGinn, TimeOut
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The Evening Standard

"Ruth Wilson shouldn’t have answered the phone to Ivo van Hove"

"Not even Ruth Wilson’s limpid talent can breathe life into this dated, 70-minute solo show, in which a woman goes to pieces discussing the end of an affair with her unheard lover over the phone."

"This splendidly truthful actress handles most of the script’s emotional hairpin turns with poise and nuance. But she’s battered on one side by the heavy-handed directorial conceits and on the other by a script - also adapted by van Hove - that clunks along like a Model T Ford."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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i News

"Ruth Wilson and Ivo van Hove fail to connect in a clichéd show"

"Ruth Wilson’s acting masterclass can’t save this sexist production of Jean Cocteau’s drama at the end of a phone."

"Van Hove gives it an explicitly tragic conclusion that, thanks to the narrative’s flimsiness, doesn’t feel earned."

Sam Marlowe, i News
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The Guardian

"Ruth Wilson fails to connect in Jean Cocteau’s tale of despair"

"Ivo van Hove’s production divests this drama of emotional power and momentum, keeping us at arm’s length"

"That drama is not captured here, nor its tension. The director Ivo van Hove also adapts Cocteau’s script and manages to divest it of its raw emotional power and momentum. It becomes as stripped and sterile as the empty glass box of a set, designed by Jan Versweyveld, which seems to keep us at arm’s length with its clinical inscrutability."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Telegraph

"Ruth Wilson deserves better than this voyeuristic portrait of a woman on the verge"

"The 'Affair' star tries hard, but Ivo van Hove's revival of this 1930 Cocteau monodrama at the Harold Pinter feels dated and distasteful."

"What, you can’t help but wonder about half way through what is an extremely slow 70 minutes, made Ruth Wilson agree to star in this oddly unpleasant revival of a 1930 Jean Cocteau monodrama?"

Claire Allfree, The Telegraph
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The Sunday Times

"Jean Cocteau wrote this bottom-numbing play in 1928, when it must at least have had shock value and when the telephone was still a sufficiently new device to provoke novel questions about human communication. Such reflections today feel like truisms. Ivo van Hove gives the show his usual sheen of millennial trendiness. Wilson throws her considerable talent at it as the monologue alternates between bravado and desperation. But does anyone care? Around me in the dress circle, ennui prevailed. The first heavy yawn came after 18 minutes."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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The Financial Times

"Ruth Wilson shines in a beautiful, flawed revival of The Human Voice"

"You start to long for a script that tells a similar story in a contemporary female voice, avoids stereotyping and measures up more to the psychological complexity. Despite Wilson’s excellence, then, this feels like a wrong number."

Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
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