Not One of These People reviews – at Royal Court Theatre ★★★

Reviews are in for Not One of These People at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

Martin Crimp performs his latest work, using deep-fake computer technology to bring 299 unique characters to the stage.  

Directed by Québécois dramatist Christian Lapointe, Not One of These People is an up-to-the-minute address to questions of representation, diversity and identity politics with characteristically provocative humour by Crimp.

Is it appropriation to invent a voice – or is it an act of empathy? If a playwright’s job is to make dialogue, is there a limit to how many characters she / he / they are entitled to invent? Who can these people be? And what if an invented voice says things that even the author would prefer not to hear?

Not One of These People is at the Royal Court Theatre until 5 November 2023.

Average Critics Rating

The Telegraph

"A triumph of deep-fakery? Yes, really.... a work of exceptional ambition"

"The performative challenge lies in Crimp speaking the lines of the entire legion of dramatis personae. The technological challenge comes in the piece’s extensive use of the computerised visual imagery known as “deep fake”.

"Curiously – given the show’s obvious technological achievement – the text is more compelling than the high-tech imagery. In the end, Crimp appears like Lucky from Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, a great torrent of humanity pouring from his mouth, but this time at much greater length."

Mark Brown, The Telegraph
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The Stage

"Extraordinary theatrical experiment exploring identity and the ethics of art"

"There are lots of people living inside playwright Martin Crimp’s head, and in this ingenious, unsettling theatrical experiment, we too hear their clamorous voices."

"The piece is a brilliant act of provocation. It bears some familiar Crimp hallmarks – the bone-dry humour, the fractured language, the stealthy preoccupation with violence – but it’s entirely plotless, consisting of lines of dialogue assigned to 299 unnamed characters, spoken by the author."

"All the self-righteousness, narcissism and moral judgement of 21st-century discourse are here, but so are serious questions about appropriation, responsibility and artistic freedom."

" It’s an engrossing, open-ended exploration, delivered with audacious theatrical flair: extraordinary."

Sam Marlowe, The Stage
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"An out-there formal experiment"

"Martin Crimp’s deepfake show is an out-there formal experiment that asks very hard questions about the ethics of authorship"

"Avant-garde legend Martin Crimp’s latest show is only having a four-performance run at the Royal Court. While that presumably partly reflects the fact that its star – one Martin Crimp – isn’t up for a more intensive schedule, it’s also surely acknowledgment that ‘Not One of These People’ is more along the lines of an art experiment than ‘a play’ and that a six-week-run might be pushing it, even by the Court’s standards."

"It almost feels a bit churlish rating something that’s so explicitly a short-run formal experiment, but critic’s gotta critique: ‘Not One of These People’ is maybe not unmissable theatre, but it’s an interesting and unnerving idea, a grand exercise in faking it that points to uncomfortable truths."

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Times

"Theatre meets art installation in a play for 299 voices"

"In this new work, directed and designed by Christian Lapointe, he presents a meditation on creativity. As he explains in the notes, he was partly inspired to create the piece by a conversation with young dramatists who were fretting “about who or what they were permitted to write about”. Yes, a very 2022 dilemma."

"Some of the fragments are amusing in a deadpan way. There’s an air of half-suppressed menace too — I hope I wasn’t alone in detecting echoes of the bullying of JK Rowling"

"In the end, however, the sheer randomness of the enterprise begins to pall. If you saw this oddity on a video at Tate Modern you’d certainly pause to admire it. But would you linger until it had finished? I doubt it."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Observer

"Sometimes lines and image seemed congruent, sometimes they were wildly unexpected, but, then, what sentence wouldn’t be unexpected from the mouth of a tiny baby? The contrasts were often high comedy, often saddening. They were always teasing, for the 299 faces on show had been generated by artificial intelligence. Does this make them more or less “real” than characters generated by a human mind?"

Susannah Clapp, The Observer
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📷 Main photo: Photo by Carla Chable de la Héronnière

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