Superior Donuts – reviews of Tracy Letts's 'quirky' new play

Engaging new comedy drama from the writer of August Osage County premieres in London

LAST UPDATED AT 07:47 ON Wed 19 Feb 2014
What you need to know

Critics are praising the UK premiere of Tracy Letts's new play Superior Donuts, at the Southwark Playhouse, London as "engaging" and "beautifully judged". Writer and actor Letts is best known for his hit play August: Osage County, now a film starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, as well as scripts for Nebraska, and Killer Joe.

Superior Donuts is a black comedy drama set around a run-down doughnut store in Chicago run by an ageing Sixties radical, Arthur Przybyszewski. The store is being put out of business by the local Starbucks, but Arthur's new employee, Franco, has some grand ideas to transform it. Runs until 8 March.

What the critics like

Tracy Letts's "engaging drama about confectionary and the American dream" encompasses questions of community, love, family breakdown, the broken dreams of old hippies and hopeful immigrants, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. Brisk direction and engaging performances ensure an appetizing evening.

After the lacerating force of August Osage County the gentle, rueful humour of this "beautifully judged UK premiere" of Letts's play comes as a surprise, says Paul Taylor in The Independent. The clash of values in the play is continually complicated by the sly comic quirkiness that is so well conveyed by the strong idiosyncratic cast.

Letts offers finely drawn characters who speak in pithy, sympathetic dialogue that this excellent production makes "a pleasure to consume", says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. Some lively and riveting performances make this superior stuff all the way through.

What they don't like

Letts's latest offering "feels like a sitcom with a social conscience", says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. The problems lie in Letts's writing, which here seems happy to rely on contrivance in order to accentuate his weighty themes. · 

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