|The clunker of the week (a word to the wise): Mongrel Island (Soho Theatre)
This new comedy from Ed Harris got more attention than either of the above shows, but only averaged 2.9 stars, with seven reviewers giving three stars and one giving only two. This is one of those odd shows where the text suggests the reviewer loved it, but the stars give it away; the reviewers seemed to be saying “we like you and we see what you were trying to do, and we want you to keep trying, although but it didn’t quite work this time.” As such you’ll likely see glowing quotes from the reviews splashed all over publicity posters, but be warned.
Ian Shuttleworth of the FT said “Harris and director Steve Marmion pack a lot into 90 minutes, and the result is never less than entertaining and intriguing. I am unsure, however, whether there is anything more to it.” In a common sentiment, Shuttleworth noted that Harris, who here gets his first large London production, “shows that he merits this higher-profile exposure and is a writer worth watching.” Paul Taylor of the Independent was uncharacteristically high-end in his commentary, noting that as an office-based comedy which pushes “the madness of mind-numbing routine towards a deranged surrealism” this was “more reminiscent of Anything for a Quiet Life, an early Complicite show” than of any Slough-based comedies one might compare it to. While enjoying the riffs and some of the visual spectaculars, Taylor agrees that the show “lack[s] any strong sense of where it is heading and ends up feeling like a mordant, pitch-black miscellany that neglects to add up to more than the sum of its parts.” Dominic Maxwell of the Times praised aspects of Harris’s script, but said in the whole that the show’s “mordant sensibility is laid on too thick and he needs to ration his absurdity to stop it from turning wilfully eccentric.” Despite Maxwell’s excitement for what this portends more broadly – the show is “a hugely promising piece of work” and “another sign of the Soho Theatre’s renewed sense of ambition and showmanship” – in viewing this particular show, in the present day, he was “always diverted, sometimes dazzled, never moved.”
Runs to 6 August
See the full list of reviews at