Lyric Theatre, London W1
Opened 18 February, 2002

** A legendary actor returns, but in a puzzlingly slight play

David Warner is back in the West End after 30 years. Unfortunately, he's in a play so thin it's hardly even there.

The programme tells us "The action takes place on a rainy evening in Reykjavik", and it doesn't get any better. Warner plays an Icelandic business mogul about to sit down to a gastronomic dinner of five courses of different snails; Philip Glenister is the mysterious visitor he invites on a whim to join him. The evening (100 minutes without an interval) consists of verbal fencing about food, sex, power, family... the usual.

Warner is a terrific actor, we all know that: even when he appeared in rubbish films, his performances were quality. And he pads through this role like an elderly lion: impressive, occasionally playful. The trouble is that it's all but impossible, not just to care about the events unfolding on stage, but to engage with them even remotely at any point. Writer Olaf Olafsson came up with a situation and thought his work was done before adding any drama or electricity. As the maids, Sorcha Cusack is utterly wasted and Siwan Morris tries too hard to make an impression in her West End début. But as for Warner... it's like watching Bobby Fischer make a comeback by playing Snakes & Ladders.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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