Comments – Haunted Child – Royal Court Theatre


You’d think I could sit through a two hour play on any night, even if it were without an interval. “Haunted Child,” the new show at the Royal Court, is two hours with an interval. And yet, I used the interval as my cue to leave the theater

I guess I’m losing my dedication to my blog; but I’m just not staying anymore when I want to fall asleep during the first act of a show. And this talky, dull show was once again “the play that I hate” (see Chicken Soup with Barley and Ecstasy) – a horrible, talky party in which I am stuck listening to people who aren’t interesting but still yammer on, scene after scene. Yeah, Dad (Ben Daniels) ran off and joined a cult, and now he’s talking shit, frustrating his wife and filling his kid’s head with garbage. Unfortunately I’ve had to deal of plenty of people like this and letting them go on just encourages them in their delusions. I felt no sense of pathos for Mom (Sophie Okonedo) or her bratty kid. She, like me, needed to cut her losses; I succeeded. She is strong and will get along fine on her own.

More interesting to me would have been a play about Dad’s time in the cult. But, well, I didn’t get that play. Instead, I got an interval and a nice quick trip back to Tooting.

In short, I’ll think of this as the night the Royal Court let me get a full night’s sleep. Bless those 10 quid tickets for making me not feel guilty for doing it!

(This review is for a performance that took lace on December 5th, 2011. Jack Boulter played the son and was rather wooden. Rather makes the accomplishments of the Matilda cast that more impressive. Here’s a link to Ian’s review now that he’s finished; he noted, however, that many other people in the vicinity cleared out at the interval, so it wasn’t just me.)


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11 Responses to “Comments – Haunted Child – Royal Court Theatre”

  1. Diane Burstein Says:

    If you are setting yourself up as a critic you should stay until the end of the play!

  2. Jack Says:

    I left at the interval….
    Oh… BEWARE OF THE SLIPS AND THE 10P STANDING! ACTUALLY don’t want this drivel.

  3. Diane Burstein Says:

    I do spend money on newspapers but like to read the criticisms in the papers and on the web of plays I have seen recently. I don’t share the views expressed by some theatre professionals who think that ordinarly theatregoers shouldn’t be critics. I am often impressed by the good writing and constructive criticism in the reviews I read on the web. I don’t mind if the reviewer doesn’t agree with my own view of the show (in this case my partner and I liked the play and were impressed with the performances including that of young Jack Boulter which you describe as “wooden”. We also liked “Chicken Soup with Barley” so we obviously don’t share your taste in drama!). That is fine. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. This is why it is interesting to read all the different reviews in the papers and on blogs such as your own. However when the critic, whether it be in the newspaper or on a blog, states that s/he left the theatre in the interval I cannot take their review seriously. After all, would you respect a book reviewer if they wrote ” I put the book down after the first 50pages and didn’t continue reading.” ?

    • webcowgirl Says:

      If someone you know said that they started a book but determined it wasn’t worth reading after 50 pages, are you saying wouldn’t you see this as a valid statement on the quality of the book? You have to make choices about when something is worth your time and I made the decision that this wasn’t worth mine; this hobby takes up a lot of time and in this case I preferred to use the time to do some writing instead of sitting through a play that was boring me. If you aren’t familiar with my general take on theater, than this means you don’t have the information you need to judge whether or not you yourself want to see this play. On the other hand, I’ve seen 121 shows this year, which means if I didn’t like a show, it’s rotten in comparison to rather a lot of shows. Also, I’ve only walked out of three shows this year, so generally speaking I do stay – but I try to be careful about making sure I’m picking the right shows in the first place.

      That said, if I’m only staying behind so I can write a review, then I’m not really doing it for the fun of it anymore, am I?

  4. Jacqueline Says:

    I would have thought leaving early because you can’t take another minute, is more honest than enduring till the end. Life really is too short. In anycase, this ‘half’ review very eloquently tells me all I need to know about the play and made me laugh. I would rather read something like this, from someone who has actually paid for their ticket, than reams of waffle from a ‘professional’ critic who is paid to attend and may have their own agenda.

  5. Stewart Pringle Says:

    Gosh, nothing wrong with leaving half way through if you’re honest about it. Pretending to have seen the whole thing would be unethical and ridiculous, but as you didn’t I say enjoy your early night.

    Though for the record I thought it was alright…

  6. Clara Says:

    I fell asleep halfway through reading your review…..and you just thought the “dad” was talking shit.

    I loved this show and found it intensely uncomfortable and immensley moving.

    It amazes me that out of over 120 shows this year you can’t even see beyond the linear story of Penhall’s magnificent piece of writing. It’s about so much more than a man joining a cult.
    Maybe you should just stick to musicals. Or take a couple of weeks out of you schedule.

    You’ve obviously never been in love and never been in a long serious relationship.

    And if you have then why weren’t your theatre eyes and ears pricked by this writing? Not to mention performances that we rarely see ever.

    There’s something fantastically lazy about paying a tenner then just leaving because you can’t be arsed. Then writing a review.

    Plus….wasn’t December 5th a preview?

    Oh shame on you.

    • webcowgirl Says:

      An insightful critique! Bonus points awarded for disparaging and incorrect remarks about my personal life. I’ve actually been married for 18 years and I’ve now seen 130 show. As for my never having been in love – how did you guess? I also eat kittens for breakfast.

      Also, while I realize you spent a very long time writing this, I’m sorry to report I got bored and stopped reading halfway through.

  7. A year in blogging – Webcowgirl’s most popular posts of 2011 – and tips for improving your blog stats « Life in the Cheap Seats – Webcowgirl’s London theatre reviews Says:

    […] Comments – Haunted Child – Royal Court Theatre 416 […]

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