Review: 13

By John Nathan, November 11, 2011

Olivier, National Theatre, London SE1

The cast is big, the staging by director Thea Sharrock impressive, but the ideas in Mike Bartlett's play are fatally undeveloped.

Although Bartlett insightfully focuses on one of the gathering issues of our time - how to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons - the sense here is of the issues of the day being used to cobble a play together in the hope that it will feel relevant.

Bartlett's smorgasbord of characters, ranging from the Prime Minister to a cleaner, have each woken with the same apocalyptic dream. They are caught up in riots, economic gloom and political disillusionment. Enter a messianic figure - John (Trystan Gravelle) - whose soapbox pronouncements gain a momentum and a following that threatens to topple the government.

But, a little like the play, though John is good at diagnosing society's ills, his ideas amount to little more than passionate hand-wringing.

Tel: 020 7452 3000

Last updated: 2:27pm, November 17 2011