Reviews are in for The Clinic at the Almeida Theatre in London.
Billed as a “fiercely political and lyrical play” by rising-star playwright Dipo Baruwa-Etti (An unfinished man, The Yard), The Clinic is directed by Monique Touko. The play centres on a successful middle-class British-Nigerian family who welcome a young firebrand into their lives. What initially appears to be a play about intergenerational tensions in a middle class family segues into a piece about class, compromise and responsibility.
The cast includes Toyin Ayedun-Alase, Donna Berlin, Maynard Eziashi, Simon Manyonda, Gloria Obianyo and Mercy Ojelade.
The creative team includes design by Paul Wills, lighting by Matt Haskins, sound by Christopher Shutt, movement by Lanre Malaolu, fight direction by Maisie Carter, casting by Julian Horan CDG. Composer Shiloh Coke, Voice Coach Alice White, Costume Supervisor Jackie Orton, Assistant Director Nkechinyere Nwobani-Akanwo and Casting Assistant Lilly Mackie.
The Clinic runs until 1 October 2022 at the Almeida Theatre, London.
The Clinic reviews
"A laboured essay in identity politics"
"A provocative question lies at the heart of Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s latest offering: how much common ground exists between black individuals at different ends of the class spectrum? What a shame the script doesn’t rise to the challenge."
"Donna Berlin is persuasive as the embattled Tiwa, Toyin Ayedun-Alas smoulders as Wunmi and Gloria Obianyo brings dead-eyed cynicism to the role of Ore, but the script’s credibility goes up in smoke long before the end."
"Culture wars erupt at a birthday party"
"Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s early dialogue shimmers with quick wit, intelligence and delightful touches (Happy Birthday is sung with harmonies, gospel-style). "
"Directed by Monique Touko, the story seems as if it could flip into domestic horror at any minute; there is a thrillerishness to the lighting (by Matt Haskins) and sound (by Christopher Shutt) which keeps us waiting for answers. Are the crackling light fittings on Paul Wills’s set signifying an alternate reality? Is Tiwa’s tea, which miraculously calms Wunmi, a magic brew? One of the play’s strengths, early on, is that we do not quite know where it is going."
"Its ominous signs lead nowhere, turning back into political argument as the plot yields one odd turn after another without delivering in its climax. Yet, incredibly, this drama never stops being absorbing, partly because of the calibre of performances; Obianyo and Berlin are particularly strong."
"Social and domestic drama that’s sometimes brilliant, sometimes baffling"
"This new play about a middle-class British Nigerian family has a muddled plot and message, but it's still well worth catching"
"Baruwa-Etti is terrific at rambunctious family scenes, in which arguments fizz like live electric cables and family fault lines are laid bare. He’s less good at weighing both sides of the debate, thanks largely to the character of Wunmi, whose arguments tend to abstract slogans that look good on placards but don’t advance much by way of understanding, and whose motivations are fundamentally ambiguous."
"Elsewhere, the wit and energy of the writing can’t quite conceal its many flaws. The language yo-yos between piercing insight and preachy cliché, sometimes within the same exchange; the characters are all mouthpieces in one form or another; and the plot is all over the place."
"Wild, witty and shocking"
"Gripping and original drama of family tension, activism and mental heath crisis"
"Now, this is a trip. Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s drama is so crammed with switchback plot twists, stylistic jolts and jump-cut focus shifts that it’s like watching six plays at once – every one of them absorbing. What initially appears to be a story of generational tensions and sibling rivalry in a high-achieving British-Nigerian family, morphs into something far more fantastical by way of debates about political activism, institutional racism, mental health crisis and identity"
"the play is highly-charged: there are complex ideas here about class, compromise and responsibility; about the cost of success for Black people, and its fragility even after it has been hard-won. At times, it’s more dazzle than clarity. Yet Touko handles its glittering invention as a sleight-of-hand conjurer, from the richly entertaining snipe and swipe of family dispute to the almost Jordan Peele-ish blend of satire and the uncanny"
"Faultlines in a fractious British-Nigerian family become catastrophically exposed when they take in a troubled young activist"
"It’s pretty much a mess – albeit a frequently funny, thrilling one – that suggests Baruwa-Etti has a way to go before he really nails larger ensemble pieces."
"It’s basically pretty entertaining – but a couple of rewrites and a round or two with a dramaturg and it could have been so much more."
"Family celebrations go pear-shaped in Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s mischievous new play"
"Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s tremendously enjoyable new play"
"The characterisation is deep but the plot soon thins... Yet the play’s strengths far exceed its faults"
"The Clinic is an attack on middle-class pretension"
"Commercial theatres might have been tougher on, and therefore ultimately more helpful to, Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s The Clinic. Its idea has its moments, but the plot is a mess and the characterisation jerky."
"The Ian Charleson award-winner Gloria Obianyo, as the doctor, lives up to her rising reputation."
"The script attacks middle-class black pretension, with a dig at MPs such as Kwarteng, Cleverly and Kemi Badenoch, but this was rendered inaudible by an over-whoopy audience"
"Racism tears apart a family in ‘The Clinic’"
"You’re expecting a drama about racial inequalities in healthcare — and we do get so
"Baruwa-Etti writes with zip, wit and elastic energy, switch-backing through styles and plot twists so that you keep losing your footing. The brutal comedy of a domestic squabble takes on a surreal edge as the electricity crackles; Wunmi’s enigmatic behaviour draws us into magical realism then thriller territory; fire becomes a recurring symbol."