Reviews Roundup: Nachtland 3.2★

Young Vic

Nachtland. Photo: Ellie Kurttz

A painting by Adolf Hitler discovered in an attic leads to debate, controversy and comedy in Marius von Mayenburg’s Nachtland. It’s directed by Patrick Marber and the cast includes Dorothea Myer-Bennett, John Heffernan, Angus Wright and Jane Horrocks 

[Links to full reviews are included but a number are behind paywalls and therefore may not be accessible]

The Independent’s Alice Saville (4★) enjoyed this ‘destabilising, endlessly fascinating new play’ with its ‘uniformly strong cast’. David Jays in The Guardian (4★) praised ‘Maja Zade’s spicy translation and … an excellent cast’. He concluded: it ‘doesn’t go deep, but prods modern Germany’s sore spots with provoking vigour.’ ‘The hit the Young Vic needs’ said the headline to Dominic Cavendish’s review in the Daily Telegraph (4★) in which he called it ‘a canny, if not fully achieved dark comedy.’ ‘Downright funny and disturbing in equal measure’ said John Nathan in the Jewish Chronicle (4★)

Susannah Clapp in The Observer (3★) commented ‘Marber’s production smartly swerves between naturalism and surreal derangement – raising the question of whether the two modes are actually distinct’. She was concerned that ‘Von Mayenburg makes saying the unsayable look too easy.’ Sarah Hemming reviewing for the Financial Times (3★) thought ‘The characters are sketchy, easy to dislike (would they be more unsettling if pleasant?) and sometimes too bluntly become mouthpieces for points of view’ but Patrick Marber and ‘his excellent cast are very good at delivering the unnerving black comedy’. ‘There are excellent performances’ said Andrzej Lukowski in Time Out (3★), ‘Heffernan is sublimely funny… Wright and Horrocks are gloriously weird’ but ‘but it often feels like the cast and Marber are more interested in being funny than the text is.’

The script came in for some criticism. The Stage’s Dave Fargnoli (3★) thought ‘Patrick Marber directs with a heightened, tongue-in-cheek tone’ but ‘cannot energise its overlong, artificial conversations.’ Theo Bosanquet on Whats On Stage (3★) said: ‘At times it can feel overly-arch, like agitprop, and as drama, it doesn’t really hold together.’ Adam Bloodworth at City AM (3★) noted: ‘It’s all slightly over-stuffed with ideas, both physical and thematic, and by the end there’s a slightly soupy feel.

‘For Nick Curtis in the Evening Standard (2★) it was ‘a disappointment’ explaining ‘After 100 minutes the play fizzles out, unresolved.’ Dominic Maxell in The Times (2★) was unimpressed: ‘For all the excellence of the cast, though, and for all the stripped-back poise of Patrick Marber’s production and Anna Fleischle’s thrust-stage design, I could never surrender to it as a piece of storytelling.’

Nachtland is at the Young Vic until 20 April 2024.  Click here to buy tickets directly from the theatre

Average critic rating 3★

Value rating 57 (Value rating is achieved by dividing the Average critic rating by the top price, excluding premium prices)

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