The Haystack, Hampstead Theatre - ★★★★★ - Until March 12, 2020

Photographer: Ellie Kurttz.

This is a fascinating thriller about spies, surveillance and the survival of our society as we know it. How do the good guys sift through the information that we are all constantly generating in order to find the bad guys? Do we really have nothing to worry about if we're not doing anything wrong? This is a first-rate story that raises some disturbing questions. When it comes to modern communications, we rather blithely tend to assume that we are trading some of our privacy for security and it is worth the price. The Haystack raises a lot of questions about that easy assumption: a young journalist gets tangled in a complex web of politics and deceit while some computer nerds learn that working at GCHQ is not playing a computer game. Writer, Al Blyth, provides a thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining night in the theatre, and director, Roxana Silbert, paces this piece so that our interest never flags. The work by Tom Piper and the designers beautifully takes us into the world of modern communications without distracting from the story. The strong cast led by Oliver Johnstone (Neil) and Rona Morison (Cora) create completely credible characters and manage to humanise what could be some rather abstract concerns. The two principals manage to engage us completely in their moral dilemmas and their fraught relationship. Similarly, Enyi Okoronkwo (Zef) is excellent as the happy-go-lucky nerd who simply enjoys the game of it all, complementing his more troubled friend. Lucy Black (Denise) and Sarah Woodward (Hannah) offer wonderfully balanced performances as representatives of the institutional forces of journalism and government. It all adds up to a thoroughly engrossing evening in the theatre, dealing with questions not often raised on the stage and not sufficiently considered by most of us. This is definitely a show you should see!

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until March 12, 2020
Mon - Sat: 7:30 pm
Wed: 2:30 pm & Sat: 3 pm
Thu Mar 12: 2 pm
Hampstead Theatre
Nearest tube: Swiss Cottage
https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/2020/the-haystack/

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