Rhys Ifans 'superb' in Tim Price's Protest Song - reviews

Jan 6, 2014

Ifans is 'poignant and charismatic' in tale of a rough sleeper swept up in the Occupy protests

Kwame Lestrade
What you need to know

Critics are praising Rhys Ifans's "poignant and charismatic" performance as a homeless man in Tim Price's play about the Occupy movement, Protest Song. Ifans (Notting Hill, The Amazing Spider Man) performs the one-man play at The Shed, National Theatre.

Ifans is Danny, a homeless man who sleeps on the steps of St Paul's Cathedral. One morning he wakes to find himself swept up in the Occupy movement that descended on the area near the London Stock Exchange.

Playwright Price is best know for his award-winning play The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning. Runs until 11 January.

What the critics like

Rhys Ifans is superb as a rough sleeper in Price's "searing 70-minute monologue", says Laura Barnett in The Guardian. The political message is refreshingly complex and exactly the sort of brave theatrical event that we need to see more of at the National.

"Ifans's performance is poignant and charismatic," says Alexander Gilmour in the Financial Times. He's wonderfully volatile with a hidden charm behind the grime, and the drama itself is well plotted and increasingly affecting.

Price's passionate monologue articulates the worldview of a London rough sleeper and this sparce production is "given blazing life by Rhys Ifans", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. The writing is abrasive, messy and shrewd and Ifans is immense.

What they don't like

While there are trenchant moments, at times Protest Song "can seem rambling, didactic and sentimentally calculated", says Kate Bassett in The Times.

Ifans's Danny refers to the real down-and-outs near the National Theatre, but the equation of art and life never quite rings true, perhaps because the star casting obtrudes.

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