Mims' Musings

Review: Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse

Posted on: 19/08/2011

From the moment the ‘bar lights’ floated down to their position above the Donmar stage, I knew Anna Christie was going to be something quite unlike anything I’d seen there before. Once my ear had fully tuned into David Hayman’s accent, I was completely immersed in the captivating, yet simple, story of a Chris, the  Scandinavian barge captain (Hayman), whose estranged daughter, Anna (Ruth Wilson) comes to visit him. During a storm, Mat Burke  (Jude Law) is rescued by Anna and they fall in love. As neither Chris or Mat realise that Anna had been working as a prostitute, they lock in a battle to ‘possess her’.

Ruth Wilson gives a spirited performance of the protagonist. Portraying her as a strong, ballsy, sassy, witty young woman, who appears to be in charge of herself. However, Wilson also exquisitely shows Anna’s vulnerable side, one that is traumatised by her past. By the end of the show, the audience is rooting for Anna to be happy. A testament to both Eugene O’Neill’s creation of a likeable female lead who is a prostitute, and the way in which Wilson embodied the character perfectly.

Jude Law’s performance as Mat Burke was one of intense electricity and raw physicality, which perfectly contrasted the innocence of a sailor looking to settle down with the pure anger that resulted from the sense of betrayal, as Anna peels the final onion skin off her emotional barrier and reveals her past.  This performance shows Law at his very best, fully shedding any past stigma of ‘good looking leading man’ syndrome and coming into his own with a refined command of the stage.

David Hayman gave a truly endearing performance as Chris Christopherson. Making the audience laugh with the character’s superstitions and personality quirks, and pulling at their heartstrings as he emotionally breaks down.

Although the acting would have been enough to do this play justice, the production and scenery made it perfect. The Donmar stage was transformed beyond recognition. The audience audibly gasped as it rose to an alarming angle, so high that the top of the stage was nearly level with the Circle seats. The storm scene was immense, and not only visually striking but so much rain was used that the audience could even feel the coolness of the water.

This production was the perfect marriage of visual and acting prowess. The perfect execution of an ambitious play, and the like of which I hope to see much more of at the Donmar in the future.



1 Response to "Review: Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse"

as i will be seeing it in september your review only validates what every other person who saw the show reports. it is a brilliant production with a mesmerizing performance by jude law and ruth wilson.

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