A Woman Killed With Kindness (National Theatre)

Posted on July 31, 2011


I gave up a sunny Saturday afternoon to be needlessly tortured by The National. I’ve made no secret of the fact I think The National has done a brilliant job this year with some of the best pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen (‘London Road‘ & ‘One Man, Two Guvnors‘), some ambitious spectacle (‘Frankenstein’ & ‘Emperor & Galilean’) and some all round entertaining fare (‘The Cherry Orchard‘ & ‘The Holy Rosenbergs‘) but for me ‘A Woman Killed With Kindness‘ is their first real stinker.

“Sebastian Armesto, whose handsome penis gave me a slight reprieve…”

After the play I actually left my handsome young date, came home, hopped online and read some history of the play to try and decide if I was merely being thick, or if indeed this production was a misstep. I still don’t know what Thomas Haywood was trying to say with the script (it sucks being a woman? Yeah, we know!), or what Katie Mitchell was trying to achieve by updating the setting, and filling it with needless flourishes.

The dual houses had me flicking my head back and forth like a tennis match with simultaneous action being lost. The drama took far too long to get going and the resolution wholly unsatisfying. I know this is a tragedy, but it’s a wholly un-entertaining one on a less than grand scale.

This was one of those times I felt bad for the actors, all of whom worked incredibly hard to acquit themselves.

I just didn’t need to see Anne’s blood spotted night-slip to prove she was a virgin. Having the women picked up and moved around like props felt far too obvious and both characters were deeply unsympathetic.

And poor Sebastian Armesto, whose handsome penis gave me a slight reprieve, seems to weirdly shout a number of his lines for no apparent reason. And why did his character return at all?!? Just as the play seemed to be reaching a climax… it kept dragging ever onwards.

That said, the calibre of acting is very good. The design is beautiful. The lighting well designed.

But I have no time for a director who seems to be wilfully making a piece impenetrable. It smacks of arrogance and immaturity. As my mother used to say to me “You’re not being clever, and you’re not being funny. Now behave yourself!”

A Woman Killed With Kindness‘ is just a dull, slog of a show with no interval in which to flee the scene of the crime.

Rating: Kindness was too merciful for this bitch, I’d give her a bullet to back of the skull.

Posted in: Play