Review: Nine Lessons and Carols, Almeida Theatre

It’s a joy to back in the Almeida Theatre even if Nine Lessons and Carols did little to change my mind about devised work

“Loneliness is the terror of not being able to dilute your own terrible personality”

Typical. You wait months for lockdown to be lifted and to be able to go to the theatre again and the first show you pick is one which really doesn’t float your boat at all. Critics are still navigating the boundaries of reviewing ethics in this immediate post-lockdown world so I’m going to keep it short if not particularly sweet.

Nine Lessons and Carols: Stories for a Long Winter feels like the kind of show that would have been a dream to create and rehease, devised as it was by the company with writer Chris Bush and director Rebecca Frecknall. But like many a devised show in my experience, that rehearsal room magic doesn’t always transfer onto the stage.

What we have is a series of fragmented sketches around the loose theme of connection and though it protests not to be a Corona play, there’s only one reason anyone is talking about this kind of thing right now. Which wouldn’t be a problem if there was a strong idea of what this company wanted to say emerging, rather than the sense of channel hopping that we receive. Not for me.

Running time: 90 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Helen Murray
Nine Lessons and Carols: Stories for a Long Winter is booking at the Almeida Theatre until 9 January and will be livestreamed on 15 December

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