Review: Lead Actor In Linda Still Reading From Script As She Fills In Last Minute

Linda, Royal Court Theatre ★★★☆☆

By Savannah Whaley Last edited 32 months ago
Review: Lead Actor In Linda Still Reading From Script As She Fills In Last Minute Linda, Royal Court Theatre 3

Noma Dumezweni stepped in to play Linda just 11 days ago, after Kim Cattrall was advised by her doctor to pull out. Dumezweni occasionally refers to the script, and sometimes stumbles over lines, but her command of the eponymous character is still impressive — so impressive, in fact, that you barely notice her swotting up on her lines every once in a while.

Linda is a 55-year-old award-winning businesswoman and mother of two who battles with the threat of becoming ‘invisible’, a threat facing every woman once they hit middle age. She's worked hard in her position as brand manager for beauty company Swan to challenge the media’s narrow and oppressive presentation of what women should look like, to raise her two daughters, and to maintain a functioning marriage.

She seems to have it all, and her self-belief is almost overwhelming, yet as the play progresses the cracks appearing in her seemingly-flawless life force her to re-evaluate herself. This reappraisal is both caused by, and leads to, a series of increasingly dramatic, and unfortunately increasingly unbelievable, events.

This play is an important one, and its exploration of the minefield that is being a woman in the 21st century is generally deftly and unsentimentally handled. Many of the secondary characters, however, are somewhat two-dimensional, and some scenes and plot threads clunky and a bit much. (Es Devlin’s set, on the other hand, is anything but OTT — it is sleek, stylish, and minimalist, and impressive enough to let us forgive it feeling very much like an Apple gadget.)

Ultimately, Linda’s character — and Dumezweni’s portrayal of her — is compelling enough to override the play’s flaws. This is still a thought-provoking, significant, and necessary play.

Linda continues at the Royal Court until 9 January. Tickets £12-£35 (£10 Monday day tickets from 9am online). Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 03 December 2015