“Major Barbara” review – the National Theatre


After last Thursday’s outing, I found I was feeling a bit nervous about going back into the Olivier. Would I be obliged to listen to horrible rhymes for an hour and a half? Would I spent the evening looking at people I didn’t care about moving around on the stage? Would I have to listen to my friends’ scorn as we dashed out into the night mid-show?

Thankfully, I am restored to grace among my theater-loving associates with Major Barbara (a good thing too as I had a pack of six out with me). While I’m sure it’s just as easy to ruin Shaw as any other play, starting off with such a strong script really does get you off on the right foot. And I found myself very interested in what was happening to the characters, so much that by the intermission, I was just as much on edge as if I’d been left hanging at the end of a chapter of a serial novel (or the last episode of a TV show) – what had wrecked Barbara? Would she end the play happy? What about her dad?

And while Shaw did indulge rather a bit in his penchant for end-of-play speechifying (blah obvious point for a socialist to make while on his bandstand blah blah), leaving me feeling just a bit worn down fifteen minutes before it was all over, still, it was an invigorating evening, what with all of that great dialog and stabs at politicians and journalists and people who watch plays but aren’t bothered about the poverty in their midst. And didn’t it all end in just such a bittersweet way for London, with our hero spouting his Armorer’s Creed, sell to any man, while surrounded by the bombs that would one day leave this lovely city smoking rubble? I felt a little fist clenching around my heart as the lights went down and the Olivier’s truly impressive sound system reminded us of just what those little silver cannisters were for. Then we walked out into the night, ignoring the poor around us, talking about theater, and thinking hardly at all about the grim implications of the heartlessness of capitalism.


3 Responses to ““Major Barbara” review – the National Theatre”

  1. Andrew (a west end whinger) Says:

    Glad you enjoyed it. It’s a peach, isn’t it? Restores your faith in theatre as a satisfying and pleasurable activity.

  2. Sam Kelly Says:

    I rather liked the speechifying at the end, personally, but then by that point I could have forgiven him almost anything.

    (I left a review here.)

  3. feignedmischief Says:

    Pleased you enjoyed Major Barbara. It’s one of my favorite productions so far this year.

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