Patriots Reviews – Noel Coward Theatre

Reviews are coming in for the West End transfer of hit Almeida theatre play Patriots starring Tom Hollander.

The Crown writer Peter Morgan’s play opened to critical acclaim at the Almeida last Summer, and is now playing at the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End until 19 August 2023.

Patriots, which won the Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play 2023, stars Tom Hollander (White Lotus, The Night Manager; Travesties) as Boris Berezovsky, alongside Will Keen (His Dark Materials) in his Olivier Award winning role of Vladimir Putin.

Other cast include Luke Thallon (Roman Abramovich), Matt Concannon (Assistant/Daniel Kahneman/Russian Captain), Ronald Guttman (Professor Perelman), Sean Kingsley (Voloshin /Nurse), Paul Kynman (Korzhakov/Yeltsin/FSB Boss/Reporter/Bodyguard) and Jessica Temple (Anna Berezovsky/Newscaster/Journalist/Secretary/Pianist) all reprising their roles from the Almeida Theatre run, and new cast members Josef Davies (Alexander Litvinenko), Ashley Gerlach (Lawyer/Home Office), Howard Gossington (Teacher/Compromised Newscaster), Stefanie Martini (Marina Litvinenko/Nina Berezovsky) and Evelyn Miller (Tatiana/Katya/Judge/Lover). They are joined by understudies Peter Eastland, Lydia Fraser and Matt McClure.

Directed by the Almeida’s Artistic Director, Rupert Goold (Ink, Enron), Patriots is a brilliant and startlingly timely story of ambition, loyalty and betrayal in a brave new world. Based on real events, the play follows the rise of Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs in 90s Russia.

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).

Book tickets to Patriots at the Noel Coward Theatre London.

Patriots reviews

The Times

"Russian oligarchs can turn on a rouble"

"... Patriots, the play in which Peter Morgan traces the rise and fall of a maths prodigy turned impassioned, arrogant billionaire. And in so doing, he depicts the origins of Putin’s Russia with the same sort of fact-filleting efficiency — and a fair chunk more liberty-taking aplomb — than he brings to his depiction of the royal family in The Crown."

"Rupert Goold’s production proves as excitingly intelligent as it is refreshingly pacey over its two and a half hours."

"It’s hard to imagine anyone better equipped than Tom Hollander to play Berezovsky, certainly in the way he is characterised here as a charming rogue whose love of freedom for Russia dovetails dangerously with his love of power and influence."

"Mostly, though, as he takes us from the rowdy post-Soviet freedoms of the early Nineties to Berezovsky’s lonely exile in Britain, Morgan extracts black comedy from a sharp-witted powerplay that does not need explicit nods to the war in Ukraine to make its pertinence felt."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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The Telegraph

"Tom Hollander returns in this icily sobering account of Putin’s rise to power"

"The star reprises his role as Boris Berezovsky, the 'kingmaker' who was instrumental in Putin's ascent and lived to regret it"

"So this depiction of Putin’s preventable progress to the heart of power makes for an icily sobering evening. Prior to the war in Ukraine, its elegant and theatrically ebullient summation of how a nondescript former KGB intelligence officer went from pawn to puppet-master might have been received simply for what it is: classy info-tainment, directed by Rupert Goold with his customary glittering elan. Now, despite having the air of a belated warning, and hardly telling us much that’s “new”, it carries a grim, adrenal urgency."

"... you can see why Keen got an Olivier for his performance as the West’s nemesis. It’s partly the eerie resemblance and attention to recognisable detail: the sour impassivity and twitchy alertness. It’s equally the spectral otherness – standing before a mirror, adjusting his posture to seem more imposing, it’s as if this man has no hinterland beyond that reflection."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
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The Evening Standard

"Tom Hollander is incandescent in this story of the fight for Russia’s soul"

"This hectic, tragicomic tale has already gained new weight and prescience as it transfers into the West End from the Almeida"

"Tom Hollander again gives a barnstorming, almost demonic performance as the oligarch who wanted to “save” Russia through capitalism – at considerable personal profit to himself. Again, he’s matched by Will Keen’s (Olivier Award-winning) twitchy but slowly hardening Putin, the monster who destroys his creator. I don’t think a line has changed in Rupert Goold’s production, but Patriots feels like a deeper and more densely thoughtful work now."

"Goold’s propulsive production allocates random British regional accents to minor characters, partly to reflect Russia’s diversity of languages and dialects, but also perhaps to remind us there’s no monopoly on corruption and bad decisions."

"The script is consistently witty and smart but inevitably, with so much information and history to pack in, some of the dialogue is on the nose.... But this is a minor quibble in a sharp, taut, political drama that enriches the West End."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Stage

"“Telling this story is a political act"

"Tom Hollander and Will Keen astonish as Berezovsky and Putin in West End transfer of Peter Morgan’s play"

"But best of all are the two central performances: Tom Hollander as Berezovsky and Will Keen as Putin"

"When Alexander Litvinenko’s story starts to take over, it is hard not to think of Lucy Prebble’s dramatisation of that narrative, A Very Expensive Poison. But where Prebble’s play is unhinged and brilliant in its daring, chaotic take on extraordinary events, Morgan’s is far more reserved, as if it can never quite escape its British formality."

Tim Bano, The Stage
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Daily Mail

"Verdict: Russian roulette"

"Rupert Goold’s characteristically fleet production unravels on a blood-red cruciform platform conjuring a sinister subterranean night club and a presidential Kremlin office, as determinedly Russian as Adam Corke’s catchy soundtrack."

"An overlong first half charts the rise and rise of a KGB nobody. In the more gripping second half, almost Shakespearean in its structure, the puppet-master becomes the puppet, and Berezovsky’s creation becomes the monster we all know and hate."

"Morgan’s prescient play suggests that for Putin, patriotism means making Russia bigger and feared. And, as the war against Ukraine proves, it has no bounds."

Georgina Brown, Daily Mail
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The Observer

"Peter Morgan’s oligarch drama transfers to the West End with added historical weight"

"Rupert Goold’s vivid production of Patriots has earned its larger space. Time has amplified the impact of Peter Morgan’s play about who runs Russia."

"Miriam Buether’s design – black and scarlet, stretching out wide with different levels – is like a Soviet coffer, and something infernal. It suggests huge distances but also restriction."

"As Roman Abramovich, the marvellously subtle Luke Thallon grows imperceptibly from awkward into implacable. Adam Cork’s folk song-inflected score beautifully conjures other less martial aspects of Russian patriotism, as do gentle memories of mushroom-picking. All this as a reminder that patriotism never was enough."

Susannah Clapp, The Observer
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📷 Main photo: Patriots starring Tom Hollander. Photo by Marc Brenner

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