Reviews

Theatre Cat, Libby Purves Reviews

A SNORTER? OR  A SMOKED POSSUM?

"The Finborough audience likes a bit of living history, and director Lydia Parker clearly made a brave decision not to rescue this hoary lump of Victoriana  by cutting ferociously and playing it double-speed. Rather we learn how it used to be: especially how mutual amusement and suspicion flowed between US and UK in popular culture, before Henry James began laboriously explaining us to one another in the 1880s and, British grandees took to livening up the gene pool by marrying Boston heiresses.

The result finally becomes oddly fascinating in retro charm"

 

The Guardian, Michael Billington

Our American Cousin review – Yankee hero saves the play but not the president

3 / 5 stars

"In Lydia Parker’s production Asa Trenchard is exuberantly played by Solomon Mousley who, with his rakishly angled felt hat and sharply cherubic features, resembles a young Mark Rylance.

Timothy Allsop struggles heroically with the laboriously unfunny Lord Dundreary and there is good support from Kelly Burke as the baronet’s vivacious daughter and Hannah Britland as a model of Victorian delicacy with a voracious appetite. Erika Gundesen also provides pleasant piano accompaniment to a play that survives as an amusing period piece, but is not exactly a work to die for."

 

British Theatre Guide, Phillip Fisher

"Our American Cousin is possibly the most famous play of all time, from a historical perspective.

While almost nobody could name it and the playwright Tom Taylor is sadly long forgotten, the work first seen in 1858 has taken on a quasi-mythical status.

That is because this is the play that President Abraham Lincoln was enjoying when John Wilkes Booth brought his life and tenure to an abrupt closure.

Theatre's most infamous moment took place 150 years ago on April 14, hence this timely revival by Lydia Parker for Over Here Theatre.

Our American Cousin is probably best remembered for its history but it offers a pleasant if undemanding 2¼ hours with enough laughs to justify the price of a ticket and the chance to see how our forefathers entertained themselves."

 

 

Bargain Theatreland, Robbie Lumsden

"Is it just a historical curiosity or does it stand up on its own? In other hands it could have been a drag, but in Lydia Parker’s production it’s a total hoot. If some revivals seek to uncover lost gems from the murk of old theatrical styles, this just accepts what a mess Tom Taylor’s play is and runs with it. And it does this to great effect. 

If the writing seems awfully creaky at points, the production is made by the brilliant comic performances. Solomon Mousley is full of charm as the American cousin, acting as a perfect foil for the series of hilarious grotesques that surround him. While Dundreary was the main draw when it first opened, his lines are so tiresome and groanworthy that if played on their own for comic effect it would be a long evening. Timothy Allsop, playing him with stuck on sideburns and yellow waistcoat that gives him an uncanny resemblance to Bradley Wiggins, performs with such gusto that you don’t mind his painfully strained wordplay. To pick out particular actors seems unfair though: the entire cast are excellent and the feeling you get watching is of enormous exuberance.

Credit should be given to Parker for her direction, which manages to corral all these disparate elements skilfully and understands exactly when you need to add a dance routine to carry a scene along. While she and her company may not have recovered a great overlooked work, they are responsible for an immensely fun evening."