The Writer Is Meta-Theatre At Its Most Meta

The Writer, Almeida Theatre ★★★★☆

By Chris Bridges Last edited 14 months ago

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The Writer Is Meta-Theatre At Its Most Meta The Writer, Almeida Theatre 4
Photo: Manuel Harlan

Plays about plays, theatre about the theatre and actors playing actors. It seems to be theatre-makers' narcissistic belief that audiences love nothing more than watching what they do behind the scenes. Ella Hickson's follow-up to Oil is nothing like the usual beast of masturbatory lovie flashing, though. She takes on the theme of how women's voices are muffled in the arts and uses it as a timely post #MeToo feminist war cry, a howl of desperation and a knowing mockery of both sides in an all out gender war.

From the rousing opening scene where a young female audience member has an angry exchange with a middle aged male director onwards, this is meta-theatre at its most meta with plays within plays and a puzzle of characters. It's a bewildering and discombobulating 2 hours of theatre.

While this might all sound completely unwatchable or more like an earnest TED talk than a storming good play it's really not. Hickson's knowing wit shines through. The drama is visceral when it needs to be and the cast of four (including Romola Garai and Samuel West) excel in their multiple roles.

This is bound to be a polarising piece but well worth a look for something truly innovative and daring.

The Writer, Almeida Theatre, Almeida Street, N1 1TA, £10-£39.50, until 26 May

Last Updated 26 April 2018