Reviews round-up: The Spoils at Trafalgar Studios

A reviews round-up for the European premiere of Jesse Eisenberg’s self-penned play The Spoils.

First seen in New York last year and partially recast for the West End transfer with British actors Katie Brayben and Alfie Allen, Jesse Eisenberg’s The Spoils has now opened to positive reviews at Trafalgar Studios.

Directed by Scott Elliott, the production also stars original cast members Kunal Nayyar from the television comedy The Big Bang Theory and Annapurna Sriram.

Eisenberg’s performance as the repellent Ben has been described as “intense”, “compelling” and “a must see” in a play that is funny and intelligent.

Here’s a round-up of reviews from The Guardian, Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Stage, Time Out and the Independent.

The Spoils runs until until 13 August 2016 at Trafalgar Studios.


Book tickets to The Spoils

Average Critics Rating


The Independent

“Eisenberg's play is genuinely funny and intelligent. Don't let recent self-penned efforts by US screen actors Zach Braff and Matthew Perry put you off.”

“while not perfect, it's a genuinely funny and intelligent study of the corrosive penalties of American privilege and sense of entitlement.”

“You cringe and wince as you laugh at the verbal humour and at the awkwardness of the social situation.”

Paul Taylor, The Independent

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Evening Standard

“Jesse Eisenberg gives riveting portrayal of a misfit”

“There aren’t enough juicy laughs or dramatic highs but Eisenberg’s performance is a psychologically intense and physically precise study in malign charisma and twitchy narcissism”

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

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Time Out

“What ‘The Spoils’ really does have going for it is, of course, Jesse Eisenberg (the actor). A twitchy, jumpy, strangely athletic live-wire of a performer, he’s completely compelling, the charisma of a Hollywood A-lister (which is what he is) combined with genuine, honest-to-god stagecraft (which film actors often lack). The rest of the cast are good too – I particularly enjoyed Annapurna Sriram as Kaylan’s prissy, self-absorbed girlfriend Reshma”

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

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The Guardian

“Eisenberg’s bullying, sexist and racist rich kid has the comic rhythm of Woody Allen and is compelling to watch, even if we don’t care about him”

“my complaint about this play is that Eisenberg, while making clear that Ben is bullying, sexist and implicitly racist, wants us to feel sorry for him. It is also striking that Ben has many of the best lines, easily trumps everyone when it comes to playing a convoluted word game and, at the end, is shown to have a buried, residual goodness. Some may see that as a clever narrative switch; to me, it reeks of sentimentality.”

“Scott Elliott’s production moves with great fluency and is well acted all round.”

Michael Billington, The Guardian

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The Daily Telegraph

“Jesse Eisenberg gives a must-see performance in The Spoils”

“The Spoils – funny (and peculiar with it) – is the most compulsive slice of American neurotica I’ve seen in a long while.”

“Scott Elliott’s production takes a while to heat up, loses some of the gags in the rattling delivery and makes some odd blocking choices during the enjoyably excruciating first-half dinner-party.”

“As light as paper, then, but with satisfyingly sharp edges, a hoot and, I expect, a summer hit.”

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

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The Stage

“Eisenberg's play coasts on a gentle wit that's never truly laugh-out funny, but Scott Elliott's production conveys its clumsy feeling and awkward friendships through a spellbinding cast.”

“British Katie Brayben (an Olivier winner for Beautiful) is also terrific, bringing a radiant warmth to the role of Sarah, and Alfie Allen (making his West End stage debut after many screen and TV credits) excels as her fiance.”

Mark Shenton, The Stage

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📷 Main photo: The Spoils (Jesse Eisenberg & Kunal Nayyar) Photo: Oliver Rosser

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