The Snail House reviews at Hampstead Theatre ★★

A reviews round-up for The Snail House at Hampstead Theatre in North London. The Snail House tickets are on sale here.

Richard Eyre’s long-awaited debut play The Snail House has opened at Hampstead Theatre in London. Written and directed by the former National Theatre Artistic Director, his first full length play centres on a privileged family who – over the course of one evening – thrash out their intergenerational differences on climate change, Brexit, wokery and all matter of conflicts.

The cast is led by Vincent Franklin (Bodyguard, BBC) as self-made pediatrician and leave voting patriarch; Patrick Walshe McBride (Peer Gynt, Barbican) plays his gay, right-wing government SPAD son Hugo; Grace Hogg-Robinson (The Ocean at the End of the Lane; National Theatre) plays his stroppy, Greta Thunberg-worshipping dropout teenage daughter Sarah; with Eva Pope (Still Alice, UK Tour) playing the wife. The cast also features Amanda Bright (In From the Cold, Netflix), Raphel Famotibe (Rocks, Fable Pictures) and Megan McDonnell (Normal People, BBC).

The creative team includes Tim Hatley (design), Hugh Vanstone (lighting), John Leonard (sound), Ginny Schiller (casting), Sam Waddington (lighting associate), Ali Take (sound associate) and Jessica Mensah (assistant director).

The Snail House runs until 15 October 2022 at Hampstead Theatre, London.

Average Critics Rating

The Snail House reviews

The Guardian

"Richard Eyre’s debut play takes on too much"

"This debut, which he also directs, is a family drama cum state-of-the-nation play cum tale of medical misdiagnosis. As interesting as these parts are, they do not make a unified whole."

"the script takes on too much without giving us enough, leaving this feeling like a play uncertain of its focus."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Evening Standard

"Richard Eyre’s long-awaited debut play sorely disappoints"

"Eyre is truly one of the great and the good, a shaper and defender of British culture. Maybe that’s why no-one felt they could suggest a redraft – or a complete rethink - of this sporadically amusing but sprawling mess, which he also directs.

"The eminent director’s first play would have benefited from a more rigorous edit"

"If there’s a central point, it’s that we’d all benefit from more empathy and less acrimonious certainty. But it’s hard to discern any message from self-contradicting characters in an improbable setup."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Stage

"Dramatically flat"

"Plodding, unpolished drama of family dynamics and intergenerational tensions"

"Dramatically flat and struggling to cohere around a central theme, it’s the first wholly original play from former National Theatre artistic director Richard Eyre, who’s had previous successes with a string of adaptations of novels and plays. This effort, though, feels slapdash, burdened with underwritten characters and a vague, contrived plot."

Dave Fargnoli, The Stage
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"An overblown generational satire"

"There’s a weirdness at the heart of this play. While it presents that age-old dramatic trope of a clash of values, it often feels like it keeps them at arms-length. "And for a play so interested in the ‘now’, there’s something so old-fashioned in its staging."

"The characters rarely behave organically, awkwardly hanging around scenes like agonised chess pieces until their next required move. This wouldn’t matter as much if they were obviously intended as overblown parodies, but no: Eyre is painfully clear that he’s making Serious Points."

Tom Wicker, TimeOut
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Daily Mail

"More pain, please!"

"One of the great directors of modern times, Eyre (a late-onset writer at 79) unfolds the action skilfully. But I craved more of everything: sweat, tears, intrigue and, in particular, pain."

"Our top-dog medical man also could have done with more of a moral dilemma: one that might have revealed greater depths in his character. Instead, the charges laid against him aren't really his fault, and are resolved without any great cost."

Patrick Marmion, Daily Mail
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The Times

"Well-crafted, but there’s a hole at the centre"

"There are lots of themes swirling in the air, but do they add up to a satisfying piece of theatre?"

"the actors are trying to breathe life into collections of attitudes rather than characters. The atmosphere grows as oppressive as Tim Hatley’s oak-panelled set. Towards the end we learn that the play’s mysterious title comes from a Nigerian proverb: “Even a snail will eventually reach its home.” By then, though, we have lost interest in whether or not it reaches its destination."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Observer

"Richard Eyre’s writing debut falls mysteriously flat"

"This is an honourable, polished play with a fine grip on the contemporary moment, expertly directed (as you’d expect) and with a first-rate cast, so it is not immediately obvious why it should fall flat."

Kate Kellaway, The Observer
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The Financial Times

"Richard Eyre’s debut falls flat"

"As a bruising summary of the many problems besetting current Britain and of polarised public debate, it’s spot on. As a play, unfortunately, it is much less satisfying. The characters too often sound like mouthpieces for points of view and there is way too much on the table: that plot-twist, in particular, deserves a whole play."

"... for all it bubbles with issues, this show is sadly flat."

Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
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The Sunday Times

"It is unexpectedly shouty"

"the second half improves... and by the end it almost has a Chekhovian flavour"

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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👤 📅15 September 2022
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📷 Main photo: Patrick Walshe McBride, Vincent Franklin, Grace Hogg-Robinson and Eva Pope in The Snail House at Hampstead Theatre, London. Photo: Manuel Harlan

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1 thought on “The Snail House reviews at Hampstead Theatre ★★”

  1. The reviews are correct. Two excellent scenes, but too many issues, characters too thinly drawn and the whole thing needing a great deal of tightening in both acts. Good performances throughout, and impressive, if slightly overpowering set. Slightly reminiscent of Moira Buffini’s “Manor” (but in a bad way, unfortunately)

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