Review: Well

A play about health that makes you feel ill

By John Nathan, January 8, 2009

Apollo Theatre, London W1

Shouty: Natalie Casey (left) and Sarah Miles in the tedious Well

Shouty: Natalie Casey (left) and Sarah Miles in the tedious Well

Well did well in New York. But outside that Mecca of self-regarding therapy and neurosis, Lisa Kron’s exploration of her family’s fake or imagined illnesses comes across as infuriatingly self-indulgent.

And not even the novelty casting of Sarah Miles — who has her own track record of self-diagnosis— as Kron’s mother Ann can keep this tedious play from imploding.

While Ann languishes in an armchair with something called “chronic fatigue”, author Lisa, played by Natalie Casey with an over-Americanised, annoyingly perky, jerky delivery, explains we are about to explore “illness in the individual and the community”. To this end Lisa relates the energy with which her mother campaigned for racially integrated communities (the Krons were the only white and Jewish family in the neighbourhood), and how Lisa developed her own imagined allergies from her mother’s hypochondria.

The story is told with a sub-, sub-, sub-Pirandello undermining of theatrical conventions with the rest of the cast, who play Lisa’s childhood tormentor, fellow patients and doctor, falling in and out of character while Ann chips in with her own version. I learned nothing about hypochondria I didn’t already know and Eve Leigh’s production, which climaxes in shouty mother/daughter catharsis, made me fell rather ill.

(Tel: 0844 412 4658)

Last updated: 5:13pm, January 8 2009