A Single Man at the Park Theatre. Photo by Mitzi de Margary

A Single Man Reviews at the Park Theatre ★★★

Reviews are coming in for the new stage adaptation of A Single Man at the Park Theatre in North London.

Scottish actress Olivia Darnley is to play the role of Charley in A Single Man at the Park Theatre in North London.

The cast includes Theo Fraser Steele, soon to appear as Timothy Laurence in Series 5 of The Crown, as George, Miles Molan as Kenny/Jim, Olivia Darnley as Charley, Freddie Gaminara as Male Paramedic/Mr Strunk/Alex/Nurse/Bartender, and Phoebe Pryce as Female Paramedic/Mrs Strunk/Maria/Doris. 

Based on the much-loved book by Christopher Isherwood, which was turned into an acclaimed movie by Tom Ford starring Colin Firth, this new stage production of A Single Man is adapted by Simon Reade and directed by Philip Wilson.

The creative team also includes Movement Director Natasha Harrison, Set And Costume Designer Caitlin Abbott, Lighting Designer Peter Harrison, and Sound Designer and Composer Beth Duke.

Billed as powerful and sexy, A Single Man is a darkly amusing study of grief, love and loneliness from celebrated writer Christopher Isherwood – the author of Goodbye to Berlin, the inspiration for Cabaret.

A Single Man runs until 26 November 2022 at the Park Theatre, London.

Check out reviews from The Stage, TimeOut and more.

More reviews to follow.

Book tickets to A Single Man at the Park Theatre

Average Critics Rating

A Single Man reviews

The Stage


"Poignantly effective and witty adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s iconic 1964 novel about love, loss and loneliness"

"While the novel’s focus on a gay relationship was ground-breaking when it was published in 1964, what particularly stands out now, in Simon Reade’s skilful stage adaptation, is its unsparing exploration of the ways we strive to put ourselves back together after a loss. Detailed descriptions of physical and neurological processes bring out the agony of George’s loneliness."

"Director Philip Wilson imbues the play’s first half with an effective, heightened surrealism"

"Steele is exceptional, stepping out of any shadow of Colin Firth’s performance in Tom Ford’s 2009 film version. His shifting physicality, as he moves between social spheres, is beautifully done."

"Steele also captures the fierce sharpness of George’s grief – particularly in the standout dinner scene with Charley (Olivia Darnley), his similarly lonely neighbour."

Tom Wicker, The Stage
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"Intriguing but somewhat distant stage version of Christopher Isherwood’s poignant novel"

"n Simon Reade’s adaptation, directed by Philip Wilson, George’s life is sepia in tone. Choked with grief, his experiences are dulled out to become colourless."

"Theo Fraser Steele channels the essence of Colin Firth’s take on George in Tom Ford’s 2010 film version and feels entirely natural for it. Always slightly withdrawn, there is careful hesitation in each of his exchanges. Yet, despite his natural urge to remain unsociable and alone with his ever-ticking thoughts, there is wry wit to his speech"

"... despite the compelling performances and the lasting tenderness of Isherwood’s narrative, Wilson’s production still feels distant"

Anya Ryan, TimeOut
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The Islington Gazette

"Simon Reade’s adaptation is thoughtful, powerful and, wryly funny, littered with cultural and political references (including one that the audience applauded as a swipe at the chaos in the Tory party) it is a compassionate study of grief and loneliness."

David Winskill, The Islington Gazette
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"Cold and clinical adaptation only skims the surface"

"Adapting A Single Man for the stage, writer Simon Reade talks in the programme notes about wanting to get at “the heart-wrenching drama of the story”. Something must have gotten lost along the way, though, because the play is often cold and clinical when it could have been sexy and stirring."

"Steele is less dour than Colin Firth was in the Tom Ford film version and he has a nice line in campy sarcasm as an Englishman abroad who doesn’t quite get America"

"The first act is breezy and engaging as the supporting cast flit on and off stage as different characters who figure in his story... The second act drags in comparison"

(Not credited), Attitude
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The Guardian

"Isherwood’s melancholy mourner falls apart in 60s California"

"This adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel about a gay man grieving for his lover lacks the depth of Tom Ford’s movie version"

"This production – lean, inventive but fatally grounded in its action and effects – ends up proving the story’s inherent anti-theatricality."

"The book is led by thought, rather than action, and its tone is a mix of the comic, spiritual and melancholic: George’s grief for his dead lover, flaring memories of love, matter-of-fact domestic detail and bathos, all of which give it great underlying emotional power. But here the tone feels flat, stripped to archness and emotionally distant."

"... Fraser Steele certainly looks the part – a lonely outsider, his smart suit a form of armour – and Isherwood’s observations and arguments offer food for thought. Some drama blooms in a scene between George and Charley (Olivia Darnley, excellent), but none of it brings the intensity and depth of feeling it should."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Times

"Isherwood’s tale impresses on stage"

"Tom Ford’s film of Christopher Isherwood’s novel added layer after layer of designer gloss to this story of 24 hours in the life of an expat academic trying to come to terms with the death of his gay lover. Simon Reade’s pensive adaptation instead focuses on unvarnished emotion."

"A strong ensemble anchors a chamber production from the Troupe Theatre Company, intelligently directed by Philip Wilson"

"... the glorious moment when George and Kenny find contentment by splashing into a stylised ocean will stay with me for a long time."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Financial Times

"Reade’s adaptation, directed by Philip Wilson, skilfully catches the strange dislocation of grief"

"Fraser Steele’s excellent, angular, awkward performance precisely charts the physical discomfort of George’s continued life, as he negotiates encounters with his neighbours, his students and a lonely bohemian friend Charley (Olivia Darnley, bringing an edge of desperation to her bright bonhomie)"

"All that being said, there is something a little sterile and remote about the show. That might be in keeping with George’s sense of dislocation, but it makes for a muted experience"

Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times
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The Sunday Times

"Philip Wilson’s production is easy to watch. The set design by Caitlin Abbott, with a few sliding compartments, sound effects and minimum of fuss, neatly creates the era. Period easy-listening music washes over us like the Californian surf heard at the start of the show."

"Steele is so busy doing his Firth impression that he never quite conveys those changes in personality. It is a stiff performance, even when George is tipsy and being chatted up outrageously by a handsome, tight T-shirted undergraduate (Miles Molan). The multitasking Phoebe Pryce and Freddie Gaminara complete the company."

"Once or twice Steele shows a wobble of suppressed grief from George. I could have done with more of that and less of the Firth tribute act."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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Daily Express

"Simon Reade’s adaptation is more humane and less alienating"

"Christopher Isherwood's autobiographical novel about a gay Englishman in Los Angeles is set in 1962 and, in the course of 24 hours, follows George as he navigates a lonely existence following the death of his partner."

"Despite a stark grey set with white-clad characters and lightly abstract staging, Simon Reade’s stage adaptation appears more humane and less alienating than Tom Ford’s glamorous film with Colin Firth."

"Philip Wilson directs the versatile cast with admirable discretion, and Reade retains much of Isherwood’s poetic language – particularly in George’s reflections – that keeps the play hovering between life and death, darkness and light, joy and despair."

Neil Norman, Daily Express
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📷 Main photo: A Single Man at the Park Theatre. Photo by Mitzi de Margary

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