Tuesday 23 February 2016

Cleansed at the National, or, Extremes of Violence, Nudity and Sex Will Take You Only So Far

Note: This is a review of the final Preview performance on Monday 22nd February 2016. The Press Night is this evening.

As a general rule with my cultural activities I am willing to see most things once, though I admit I do exclude immersive theatre, other things which advertise audience participation in advance, and horror films. I mention this because even when booking for Cleansed I was hesitent, and reading reports of earlier previews I nearly abandoned the whole thing. In the end my completionist streak won out, I went, and survived. However, I never need to see this play again, and I am not convinced of its merits.

First, the positives. The cast are very strong and deserve enormous credit for what must be an exhausting experience, both physically and emotionally. I should also have thought it was unpleasant but I assume performers must measure such things in such a context differently otherwise I can't see how you would cope with these roles. Michelle Terry, on stage almost throughout, deserves particular praise.