Reviews of Daytona at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Round-up of reviews of DAYTONA starring Maureen Lipman at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Maureen Lipman in Daytona
Maureen Lipman in Daytona

David Grindley directs Maureen Lipman, Harry Shearer and the writer of Daytona, Oliver Cotton, in this transfer from the Park Theatre.


Book tickets to Daytona at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Average rating score for this production


"What begins as a play about the killing of a Nazi winds up as a deeply moving love story in old age, and in the final scene it transcends words as Lipman and Shearer perform a captivating quickstep together, with only Billy as their audience."

"The trouble, though, is that far too much is schematically signalled and fails to ring true. The characters do certain things (the wanted man request a climactic ballroom dance exhibition from the other two. say) not from plausible motives but to serve the creaky dramatic structure. The best parts are the long set-pieces which almost made me feel that, given Cotton's gift for these, the story would have been better told as interwoven monologues. I'm rather hobbled in talking about Lipman's excellent performance by having to preserve a secret.  But, her New York accent slipping into Mittel-European under the pressure of remembered loss, she is gently devastating as the sad drily witty wife who has had to learn make the most of the second best."

"Thematic overload and a lopsided structure undercut the play’s impact. But Cotton’s dialogue is sharp, funny and sometimes profoundly evocative. And David Grindley’s fine production (transferring from the tiny Park Theatre) is performed with subtle grace. Lipman and Shearer shine in particular: droll and smart on the surface, they both movingly suggest the pain concealed beneath their strategies for survival."

"If the evening springs one real and welcome surprise, it is that Lipman gets the opportunity to remind us what a fine and subtle actor she is away from all the comic mugging. As the elderly, dancing Elli, making the very best of her life and determined not to be in thrall to the past that almost broke her, she is understated, and all the more moving for it. It is a performance that balances intelligence and feeling in a way that the play singularly fails to achieve."

"David Grindley’s careful production can’t obscure the play’s weaknesses. It’s a clunky mixture of love story, historically charged Arthur Miller homage and winsome picture of seniors savouring their dance steps. Its lengthy monologues meander, exposition takes too long and the big revelations are predictable. Daytona is overstuffed, and a lack of focus means it never drives home any of the points it seems interested in making."

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