Collected Reviews: The Lightning Child (Globe Theatre until12Oct)

The reviewers of the national papers have gone Bacchic in this reworking of Euripides’ Bacchae. This is bad news – they are tearing into the play.

Theatre/2013/The Lightning Child/GC/new‘(C) Shakespeare’s Globe

  The Lightning Child, billed as a reworking of Euripides’ Bacchae and billed as the first musical to grace The Globe, opened earlier this week at Southbank. The play was written by Ché Walker and Arthur Darvill and directed by Matthew Dunster and it seems to follow the outline of its inspiration, following the story of a non-believer gaining retribution.

Whether such fates should befall the The Daily Telegraph‘s Jane Shilling (3/5 stars), The Guardian‘s Lyn Gardner (2/5) or The Evening Standard‘s Fiona Mountford remains to be seen. Shilling appreciate the mix of modern and ancient themes and credit it for its charm, yet brands the play “flimsy”, “self-indulgent and slackly directed”. She concludes: “Walker’s intentions were probably of the utmost seriousness, but what he’s ended up with is Bacchae – The Pantomime.” Gardner concurs with Shilling’s assessment of the director’s work and wish for a play with less going on. Mountford comments that the performance is “is one of the worst evenings of the theatrical year.” Mountford concludes: “The impact of the original myth is entirely dissipated, not to mention sullied by Bette Bourne’s dreadful Teiresias constantly stating, “Thank f**k I’m blind”. Darvill’s ethereal music adds little to   Matthew Dunster’s ragged production. “This is torture”, screams Agave (Finty Williams) at the end. We know precisely what she’s going through.”

What’s On Stage’s Rhiannon Lawson (2/5) gave similar assessment, citing Ladyboy in advising that “‘Don’t worry if you get lost… don’t try and make sense of it.'” Yet Peter Brown (3.5/5) of found some charm in the inconsequentiality of the play, while Kate Bassett (did not rate) of considered the play a damp squid by the end of the evening.

All the reviews seem to agree on the poor work of the director and an inability to see a plot, or be hooked on to anything. The length of the play (around 3 hours) seem to lessen the play’s ability to be enjoyed. You can read the reviews and links below.

The play runs at The Globe Theatre until 12 October. Tickets cost £5.

Official website of the play:


The Daily Telegraph

The Guardian

The Evening Standard–theatre-review-8826023.html

What’s On Stage:

Other links: contains photos of the play:

TimeOut London blog (Now. Here. This.): “Split opinions, commentators clash over ‘The Lightnig Child’ at The Globe”:

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