The Donmar Warehouse is definitely one of the nicest and most interesting performing spaces in London’s West End. The quality of the productions is outstanding most of the time and the list of bis names that have the graced the Donmar stage is quite impressive.
Main reason for my visit this time was Jude Law who I had last seen as Hamlet, a part which he played absolutely brilliantly (once again one of the pleasant surprises when it comes to seeing celebrities on stage).
Jude is appearing in Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie, a play about a former prostitute who meets her father for the first time since she was five and who later falls in love with a sailor but fails to tell both men about her past at first.
Jude Law plays Mat Burke, the sailor Anna falls in love with. His performance in Hamlet had really impressed me and I was looking forward to seeing him on stage again. And I can report that he once again does not disappoint. I think he is sometimes trying a bit too hard to emphasise certain words but that’s just a minor critisism. All in all his portrayal of the Irish sailor Mat is spot on. And just how many hours has the man spent at the gym in preparation for the play? I was only just able to stop myself from drooling when he first entered the stage (shirtless I might add!).
As much as I enjoyed Jude Law’s performance the star of the show for me was definitely Ruth Wilson as Anna. Such a passionate and believable portrayal of the former prostiture trying to start a new life and putting the past behind her. She really had me on the edge of my seat during the whole play.
Anna’s father Chris Christopherson is played by David Hayman. I admit the more or less Swedish accent (it sounded more like a German accent to me to be honest) did get on my nerves a bit after a while. Generally his performance is solid but he definitely stands in Ruth Wilson’s and Jude Law’s shadow.
The supporting cast does a great job but let’s be honest, this play is about Anna, Mat and Chris so it’s those three that are in the spotlight throughout the show. Their relationship and the emotional rollercoaster they go through is what keeps the story alive and interesting.
I was really impressed by the stage design. As small as the Donmar Warehouse is, they really know how to create a great set. I don’t want to spoil anything for people who haven’t seen the show yet but are planning to go. All I’m saying is the scene on board the coal barge is very well done and I loved the whole thunderstorm scene.
All in all this was an afternoon and money well spent. Although the play itself is in my eyes a bit dated and not a masterpiece it was performed with such passion and skill that I was really drawn into the story. And for me that’s exactly what theatre needs to achieve.
Anna Christie is on at the Donmar Warehouse. For more info go to http://www.donmarwarehouse.com/. Please note that all performances are sold out but there are day seats available for each performance (prepare to queue early!