Confession: I sat down to observe the Patriots on the Almeida, not realising that the central character Boris Berezovsky (Tom Hollander) was based mostly on an actual particular person. 🤦🏻 The penny drop second got here when a personality beforehand known as ‘The Child’ was launched as Roman Abramovich (Luke Thallon).
Peter Morgan’s play follows Berezovsky from his place as an influential oligarch who helps to place Vladimir Putin (Will Eager) in energy to public enemy and exile.
He has a intelligent thoughts, a pointy tongue and isn’t shy of dropping f-bombs. Whereas his main motivation, he tells us, is doing what’s finest for his nation, his conceitedness says one thing barely totally different. And that conceitedness blinds him or skewers his judgement and results in his downfall.
Tom Hollander performs Berezovsky with wit and swagger; it’s a star efficiency (he obtained a standing ovation on the finish) however not a shocking efficiency.
Putin is the one different character that has some traction within the play and is expertly performed by Eager. He actually embodies the character presenting an uncanny likeness that’s fairly disconcerting.
It is related for Thallon, he does bear an uncanny resemblance to the person he’s taking part in. Nevertheless, his character feels wasted, with little for Thallon to actually get his tooth into, notably given the meatier roles he is had not too long ago (Camp Siegfried and After Life).
There are a complete bunch of different characters – mom, trainer, safety guard and so forth – which do not actually go away sufficient of a mark on the narrative to really feel warranted.
Amongst them are a couple of tertiary feminine characters, which was a bit disappointing – we have had sufficient performs with girls on the periphery.
At its coronary heart is an fascinating exploration of patriotism. Berezovsky and Putin say they’re motivated by doing what’s finest for Russia however what they imagine is finest could be very totally different and formed by their persona and private acquire.
Laughs and F-bombs
There are laugh-out-loud moments courtesy of Berezovsky’s sharp retorts, insults and sometimes underpinned by a very good dollop of F-bombs. Hollander’s supply of an F-bomb is to be applauded.
However that is additionally a severe, darkish play that feels slowed down in pointless elaborations and extraneous element. There may be not sufficient to correctly draw out the element of the primary characters and an excessive amount of of every thing else.
You’ll be able to’t assist however make comparisons with James Graham’s political performs (This Home and Better of Enemies), which felt punchier.
I am giving Patriots ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Patriots, Almeida Theatre
Written by Peter Morgan
Directed by Rupert Goold
Working time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, together with an interval (this was throughout preview)
Reserving till 20 August, for extra particulars and tickets, go to the Almeida web site
The Seagull, Harold Pinter Theatre ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️