Britannicus, Lyric Hammersmith

Britannicus reviews at the Lyric Hammersmith 2022 ★★★★

Reviews are in for Britannicus at the Lyric Hammersmith in London.

Son or pawn? Lover or manipulator? Brother or usurper? Britannicus is a chilling portrait of a dictator’s rise to power. Set in modern day Rome, Jean Racine’s Britannicus is translated and adapted by Olivier Award-winning writer Timberlake Wertenbaker. 

A timely political thriller, director Atri Banerjee’s production features Nathaniel Curtis (It’s A Sin), Hanna Khogali, Helena Lymbery, Nigel Barrett, Shyvonne Ahmmad, William Robinson, Sirine Saba, Hanna Khogali, Helena Lymbery, Nigel Barrett and Shyvonne Ahmmad.

Nathaniel Curtis describing the play said “Britannicus is a beautiful combination of modern and classical. It’s intense, high stakes and all set within a 12-hour timeframe.”

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Read a round up of review of Britannicus at the Lyric Hammersmith in London from UK news outlets including The Daily Telegraph,The Times, The Guardian, Time Out and the Evening Standard.

Average Critics Rating

The Guardian

"Political drama is deadly serious but full of sass"

"Timberlake Wertenbaker’s take on Racine’s version of ancient Rome is replete with power-crazed emperors, deadly poison and juicy family politics"

"Atri Banerjee’s thrilling production brings this Roman family into a modern-day court and shows us how old stories can be made terrifically new, with enough fearless imagination."

"Every performance is fabulous. So is Rosanna Vize’s stage design"

"Is it a penetrating or complicated enough study of power? It doesn’t matter because it is irresistible as a piece of theatre – a production of immense confidence and sass, and one that will leave you simultaneously chilled and chuckling."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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"Atri Banerjee’s production takes us to 'Succession' territory"

"Like ancient Greek dramas, Racine's play has an arch, declamatory quality, its players turning to the audience to unfold their schemes or unpick the story's tangles. Banerjee's staging handles this artificiality stylishly, with Rosanna Vize’s design making the stage feel like a Tate Modern installation. It's deliberately non-naturalistic and flooded with coloured washes of light and studiedly mundane touches like the conference centre chairs that get kicked over as things kick off. This production feels like a masterclass in how to take a seldom-staged (in the UK, anyway) text and seduce an audience into confronting it, in all its writhing, sexy ugliness."

Alice Saville, TimeOut
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The Telegraph

"From incels to Putin, Racine's dusty old play feels oddly relevant"

"This assured revival at the Lyric Hammersmith is the mother of all psycho-dramas"

" In this mother of all psycho-dramas, it’s as if we hurtle from early contractions of fear to the blood-stained hatching of a monster, those involved at once caught up in the process, yet somehow bystanders to the hermetic horror.

Atri Banerjee’s assured mainstage revival at the Lyric, utilising a fine version by Timberlake Wertenbaker from 2011 that banishes any sense of a dusty school-text, conveys the remorseless nature of proceedings."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Evening Standard

"Rarely revived for evident good reason"

"Some decent performances can’t drag any contemporary relevance out of this talky French classic"

"Fair play to the Lyric and Banerjee: it’s a bold and admirable move to tackle Racine, who’s rarely done. And to be honest, if this production had been staged by a European guru at the Edinburgh Festival two decades ago, it would have been feted. But all the way through I kept thinking – why here, why now, why make this more difficult than it already is?"

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Times

"Power politics in ancient Rome around the water cooler"

"This modern-dress interpretation — dominated by the majestic figure of Agrippina, searingly played by Sirine Saba — doesn’t find an answer to the perennial question of how to find a replacement for the stately music of French classical verse. Wertenbaker’s text is more jagged and demotic, making those long scenes of exposition much, much harder to absorb."

Clive Davis, The Times
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Daily Express

"Fantastic backstabbing fun with a towering central performance"

"A fantastically entertaining modern dress look at the early days of Emperor Nero at the Lyric Hammersmith. The razor-sharp script is anchored by a sensational central performance from William Robinson as the mad, bad and definitely dangerous to know budding pyromaniac. Huge fun - do not miss."

Stefan Kyriazis, Daily Express
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📷 Main photo: William Robinson and Sirine Saba in Britannicus. Photo Marc Brenner

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