Apologia at Trafalgar StudiosCultureTheatre
Apologia is a piece of rare brilliance from start to finish. It is a thoughtful work with interesting social insights while at the same time being a fantastically entertaining, star-studded, big-budget event.
The play is yet another story set around a dysfunctional family dinner; but it couldn’t feel more fresh. Directed by the ever excellent Jamie Lloyd, Stockard Channing and Freema Agyeman go at each other with delicious savagery while themes of family and pioneering feminism also clash. It’s also very funny.
Stockard Channing is, well, Stockard Channing: as fantastic as ever and a powerful presence on stage. She delivers her lines with wit and a passion that’s reminiscent of her greatest scenes in The West Wing.
But even up against Channing, not to mention the Olivier-award winning Desmond Barrit, Downton Abbey’s Laura Carmichael and theatrical heavy-weight Joseph Millson who also star in Apologia, Freema Agyeman’s performance shines. A flawless theatrical debut that will hopefully launch a long-running career in London’s theatres.
Alexi Kaye Campbell’s writing is no doubt some of the sharpest in the West End. Intelligent, genuinely funny and human, every line, from the great arguments to the snide comments, has been crafted wonderfully and each has impact.
And if one looks for it, there are bountiful deposits of deeper meaning and questions within Apologia – this isn’t just an entertaining show, although it can certainly be enjoyed as one. How have women’s roles changed? What does it mean to fight for something? What do you give up and how do you suffer when you do? And where do you go from there? How do you continue to exist?
Apologia is perfect – maybe slightly too much to be real. It’s about a dysfunctional family that’s a bit too dysfunctional to actually exist; but who cares? The characters are rich, the dialogue is on point, the acting is superb. The chance to see Stockard Channing on stage should be enough of a pull but there’s so much to enjoy about this revival. It doesn’t merely achieve what it sets out to do, it raises the bar quite drastically on all theatre.
Photos: Marc Brenner
Apologia is at Trafalgar Studios from 1st August until 18th November 2017. Book your tickets here.