Reviews are coming in for Patriots at The Almeida Theatre in London.
Peter Morgan’s new play about Russian oligarchs and the rise of Vladimir Putin stars Tom Hollander in what is described as a ‘performance of the year’ (Independent). Directed by Rupert Goold, Patriots is an unflinching story of ambition and the dangers of loyalty and love.
Based on real events, Tom Hollander plays Boris Berezovsky, a one-time ally of Vladimir Putin, alongside Will Keen as Putin, Luke Thallon as Roman Abramovich, Yolanda Kettle as Marina Litvinenko, the widow of Berezovsky’s comrade and victim of Russian state poisoning, Alexander Litvinenko played by Jamael Westman.
Completing the cast are: Matt Concannon, Stephen Fewell, Ronald Guttman, Aoife Hinds, Sean Kingsley, Paul Kynman, Jessica Temple
The creative team includes Miriam Buether (set & costume), Deborah Andrews (costume), Jack Knowles (lighting), Adam Cork (sound & music), Polly Bennett (movement), Robert Sterne CDG (casting), Joel Trill (voice coach), Sophie Drake (assistant director) and Yuri Goligorsky (Russia Consultant).
Patriots runs until 20 August 2022 at the Almeida Theatre, London.
Read a round-up of reviews from UK theatre critics below.
"Playwright Peter Morgan‘s slick horror show captures the early days of the despot but makes him sound like Rodney from Only Fools and Horses"
"This is a slick horror story about greed for money and power. The Putin we see is a psychopath with murderous underlings. Berezovsky, played magnetically by a tonsured Tom Hollander, gorges himself on success. It is hard to feel sorry for him when he falls. Putin’s own overreach goes unshown, but it will surely come, will it not?"
"Peter Morgan’s compelling study of Russian dissidence"
"Rupert Goold’s production is ultimately entertaining but choppy, taking time to settle before its power struggles gain intensity."
"But the play resets itself in the second half, dropping the Dead Ringers-style wisecracks and gathering potency, gripping stillness and tension."
"The show-stealing performance is Will Keen’s saturnine Putin who emerges as the greatest and most sinister force on stage. "
"Tom Hollander delivers firecracker Boris Berezovsky lead performance"
"There are echoes of The Crown’s confident sweep down the years and the skill Morgan has of homing in on a particular event and magnifying it to make it representative of a pivotal political moment."
"The West End, and indeed Broadway, should surely ready themselves for a benign Russian invasion."
"Tom Hollander gives one of the performances of the year"
"If the play sometimes gets heavy – the political and economic fate of post-Soviet Russia is no episode of Love Island – Hollander skips through it lightly."
"There are plenty of great performances in Rupert Goold’s production. Will Keen’s Putin..Luke Thallon as Abramovich..Jamael Westman.. as Litvinenko"
"Witty, thrilling battle of political wills"
"Rupert Goold’s witty production about the oligarch who arguably created Putin and was then destroyed by him is sadly very timely"
"Tom Hollander gives a riveting performance."
"Hollander’s Berezovsky is horrible but glows with Mephistophelean charm"
"He’s matched by Will Keen as Putin"
"Rupert Goold’s boiled-down production showcases the gift for concision and emotional grounding that Morgan brought to The Crown, The Queen, and his New Labour succession drama The Deal."
"Unsettling political drama from Peter Morgan”"
"In this slow-burning overview of Russian politics through the 1990s to the early 2010s, Morgan describes a nation sliding into authoritarianism as avaricious oligarchs and amoral politicians exploit their country’s systemic corruption for personal gain."
"Morgan tells the story with methodical, cerebral coldness. While there’s a dose of suitably dry humour in the smart script, its slow pace and short, episodic scenes rarely generate enough conflict to really captivate. "
"Tom Hollander does turn in a commanding performance"
"A play that is an unwieldy combination of docudrama and thriller with a sliver of Gogolesque comedy tossed in."
"Putin and Berezovsky play chilling power games in Patriots at the Almeida Theatre"
"Tom Hollander and Will Keen excel in Peter Morgan’s riveting new drama. Plus: Emilia Clarke in The Seagull; Peaky Blinders goes immersive"
"Tom Hollander, Will Keen Crackle in Story of Russian Oligarch Who Tangled With Putin"
"Revelling in his authority, Hollander has a permanent gleam in his eye, a malevolent hint at the power-hungry madness simmering beneath his fascinatingly maintained calm surface. It’s an alarming performance made all the more vicious by its element of suprise. And Hollander never hints at what’s coming, providing high-voltage shock via sudden switches of mood as when he slams a piano lid down on an official accompanist whose playing he has only just praised."
"Falls short of its ambitions"
"It’s an interesting, informative play, with three great performances in Hollander’s brilliant, quicksilver Berezovsky, Keen’s hypnotically plausible, hangdog Putin, and Luke Thallon’s Abramovitch"
"It’s a solid drama from Morgan, with a superior cast and an entertaining production. But the fact it threatens to say something devastatingly perceptive about the world in 2022 makes it all the more disappointing when it doesn’t."
"Tom Hollander is magnetic in Peter Morgan’s slick Russian oligarch drama"
"...his [Peter Morgan's] latest theatrical outing is predictably pacey and tartly entertaining. But despite a stylish production by Rupert Goold with a lead performance of genially ruthless charisma from Tom Hollander, it lacks texture and dimension: it’s a bright cartoon-strip in which the characters remain broad and flat."
"The rise and fall of Putin’s arch enemy "
"Rupert Goold directs with characteristic touches of song and dance on Miriam Buether’s stage that looks like a cross between a casino, a pole dancing club and a Kremlin walkway.
"As a snapshot of recent Russian history it’s a humdinger. The reality, though will have been much nastier, and much darker."