The Republic of Happines - Martin Crimp's experimental and challenging play - runs at The Royal Court, London until January 19th. Anyone looking for a cheery festive escape, look away now, but you deep Christmas thinkers, will you be satisfied?
Reviews for this play refuse to give you a definitive answer as to whether you should see it or not. Three of the biggest papers: The Guardian, Telegraph and Independent, give the film 3 stars, 2 stars and 4 stars respectively, making it impossible to actually get an idea, without seeing it for yourself, which you should do anyway. But if you've got a favourite paper, and you trust them implicitly to dictate your cultural intake, then here's what their saying about it.
"Martin Crimp's play has a deceptively traditional opening," say The Independent in the most positive review of the bunch. "We seem to be in Alan Ayckbourn territory as a middle-class family bicker round the Christmas dinner table. But then it's as though Season's Greetings has been hijacked by a squad comprised of the absurdist Ionesco, that master of logorrhoeic misanthropy, Thomas Bernhard, and Caryl Churchill at her most radically playful.
"So the Royal Court's decision to offer Crimp for Christmas is clearly a sly little joke on the part of its outgoing artistic director Dominic Cooke," quip The Telegraph in their 2* review, "though one that's about as funny as presenting your alcoholic uncle with a festively wrapped bottle of malt whisky when he has been precariously on the wagon for six months," they continue.
And levelling things out are The Guardian: "I admire Crimp's ambition," they write, "but his play left me puzzled. Crimp is very good on what is wrong with today's world: our hi-tech angst is nicely captured when someone says: "You think I don't know how to click on trauma and drag it into the document of my own life." But, while we know what Crimp is against, it is hard to say what he is for."
The BBC drama starring Aidan Turner returns to BBC One on September 4th.