Every Good Boy Deserves Favour – Royal National Theatre

The nemonic Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is ingraned into the minds of any music student but in Tom Stoppards collaboration with Andre Preven the phrase takes on a wider metaphor.

A play for actors and orchestra sees a full size symphony orchestra fill the stage while two political prisoners are ‘imprisoned’ in a mental institution. One imagines an orchestra in his head while the other sees innocent people being arrested by the state – who is mad and who is sane?

Its almost Chekhovian in tone but the use of the orchestra adds a grander scale. It takes some time to come to terms with the set up and in a play that only lasts just over an hour this is a problem. By the time the concept is imbedded though the two elements work well and adds a further dimension to the play.

The epic Olivier stage is needed for such as a production as this but the very scale of the theatre somehow distances the emotional connection. It may be a contradiction but such an epic production may be better served by a more intimate venue.

An interesting exploration but not wholly satisfying.

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