David Hare adapts and directs his own Beat the Devil with a strong Ralph Fiennes once again but suffers this time in the face of stronger Covid dramas
“It’s almost medieval what we’re seeing”
It is probably fair to say that Beat the Devil got a kinder reception than it might otherwise have done normally, being as it was one of the first shows to open in London after the first lockdown. I’m as guilty of that as anyone, finding that it did “does just about everything you’d expect a David Hare monologue to do” without really pulling him up on it because, well, it wasn’t really the time.
Being David Hare, he has managed to wangle a TV adaptation out of this Covid-19 monologue, delivered once again by Ralph Fiennes, but onscreen it feels slighter, less significant, not least because it now has to compete a raft of other cultural responses to Covid, including those written specifically for TV like Jack Thorne’s scorching Help for Channel 4.
Fiennes plays Hare himself as he struggles through contracting the disease. And as his own experience runs him truly ragged, he’s further exasperated by the moral bankruptcy – as he sees it – of the government response here in the UK. It’s a fitfully effective howl of both personal and political outrage but not one that really lingers in the memory to be quite honest. Nice studio though David.