Apologia @ Trafalgar Studios 1
Cast includes Stockard Channing, Freema Agyeman and Joseph Millson
Running Time: 2 hours 20 mins, inc interval
Alexi Kaye Campbell’s second play Apologia was originally produced by The Bush in 2009, and is currently enjoying a slightly delayed revival at Trafalgar Studios, directed by Jamie Lloyd (who is no stranger to the theatre, having directed several shows there previously including The Maids and The Ruling Class.
Campbell’s second play focusses on the relationships between a family after Kristin (played by Channing) publishes her memoirs, yet omits both of her sons from them. The ensuing plot is both passionate but also witty and humorous, as the cracks in the family emerge and questions are asked about the sacrifices that Kristin has made. The play is good, balancing the serious issues with a lightness and contrasting them with humour – it is here that the play is possibly the most successful. The opening to the second act is possibly more serious and darker, which makes for a slower half, especially after a tonal shift midway to return to the lighter approach of the first half.
The cast of this revival make this production so enjoyable – Stockard Channing is clearly a huge draw, making a rare West End appearance. She gives a skilful performance here – managing to highlight her character’s flaw in a sympathetic light, yet giving this a lightness of touch, along with a keen intelligence. She is ably supported by Joseph Millson doubling as both of her sons, especially as Simon, giving a melancholy and wholly broken performance. Freema Agyeman (best known for her TV roles such as Doctor Who) impresses as Claire, Simon’s girlfriend, especially in her West End debut. Laura Carmichael, however, excels as Trudi – she is both capable of providing the comic foil for the piece but also understanding Kristin the most.
Also of note should be Soutra Gilmour’s set – the set is framed, reminiscent of a picture frame, which is a nice touch (it is also a technique utilised in other Jamie Lloyd directed shows such as The Maids). The kitchen set is also beautifully realised and well-lit throughout – it manages to avoid the current trend of a few preset lighting states, and effectively and evocatively lights the space.
Summary: An all-star cast leads this well directed revival of a funny and intelligent play. ****