by Stephen Mitchell
Returning to the National Theatre for the first time since his appearance in Stoppard's
mathematical masterpiece Arcadia in 1993, Rufus Sewell graces the expanses of the Olivier
stage in Peter Gill's new production of the seldom-performed 1961 work of religious
revolution by John Osborne.
Sewell steps into the cassock of the famed Protestant reformer Martin Luther, whose
railing against the lavish lifestyle of the 16th century church culminated in his nailing
a spiritual manifesto to the church door in Wittenberg.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, from the author of Look Back in Anger, the toils of Osborne's
angry young monk are as personal as they are political. The role was originally performed
by Albert Finney 40 years ago,and the portrayal of an inspirational but flawed figure
caught up in an internal maelstrom of conviction, emotion and faith, should provide Sewell
with plenty of substance to sink his gnashers into (and hopefully help exorcise the memory
of his recent lukewarm Macbeth).
With an exceptional cast including Richard Griffiths, Timothy West and Geoffrey
Hutchings and with set design by Alison Chitty, you can expect brilliant production
values, but be warned - at a shade over three hours you may find that Rufus isn't the only
one hammering at the doors by the curtain call.
Theatre: Olivier Sep 29, Oct 1-4, 6, 17-20, 22 & 23, 30 & 31, Nov 7-10, 12-14,
7.15pm, Oct 5, 7pm (press night), Oct 6, 18, 20, 23, Nov 1, 10, 14, 2pm £10-£32, concs