The Treatment at the Almeida scored unanimous four star pro reviews. Tim Bano (The Stage) described Martin Crimp’s 1993 “satire on art” and “the artificiality that’s suffused everyday life” explaining how, in “a lurid New York City… Anne sells the story of how her husband ties her up and places tape over her mouth to two movie executives” only to see it “warped beyond recognition”. Sarah Crompton (What’s On Stage) saw a “depiction of a civilisation turned sour” and Aleks Sierz (Arts Desk) hailed a “satirical epic… a fabulous work” in which the “title alludes to the outline of a film…. and, crucially, to the way we treat others”. Michael Billington (The Guardian) enjoyed this “rich ambiguity” and saw “both meanings come together”. Sierz hailed “a city drama for our times… full of urban cacophony… dense with ideas” and Crompton described “a series of dislocating and dislocated scenes… both sharply funny and profoundly disturbing”. Billington enjoyed its “fascinating use of recurring motifs, especially concerning ‘vision’”.
He thought it “immaculately” and “stunningly staged” by Lyndsey Turner. Sierz found the production “beautifully lit and vividly clear” and Bano called it “crisp” with “performances and text… exposed”. Crompton, who found it “tightly controlled” said its “dazzling darkness is held as coiled as a rattlesnake, ready to bite”.
Billington saw a “fine cast perfectly catch the characters’ internal contradictions”. Bano thought it “immaculately performed” and Crompton said: “The entire cast” display “just the right mixture of self-obsession and pain”. She felt “Aisling Loftus catches both Anne’s vulnerability and her mystery”. Billington saw her “plausibly” blend “victimised vulnerability with a savage vindictiveness” and Bano found her “stunning… full of poise, and panic… a bubbling fear”.
He praised Indira Varma equally, thinking her “at her best when sharp and dismissive”. Crompton agreed she’s “compelling as the monstrous Jennifer, who never quite understands anything but never lets it stand in her way”. Billington saw Varma and Julian Ovenden “skilfully suggest that they feed off other people to camouflage their own emotional vacancy”, while Crompton admired Ovenden’s “kind of predatory confusion”. Billington thought Matthew Needham “a compelling mix of the humdrum and the demonic”. Sierz found Ben Onwukwe’s blind cab driver “unobtrusively funny” and Ian Gelder and Gary Beadle “powerful stage presences” and Crompton praised Onwukwe, Beadle, Gelder and Ellora Torchia for “pitch perfect support”.
Sierz summed up “a brilliantly written, metaphor-rich depiction of perversion and desire” and found its “satirical barbs and darkly humorous one-liners… as fresh as ever” declaring: “Crimpland has rarely been so brittle, and so relevant.” Billington agreed it “has acquired new potency” and Bano felt it “depressingly fresh”. Crompton found it “unsettling to watch” but thought “seeing it here in so good a production makes it a mystery that it has been so little revived” concluding: “It shimmers with dark brilliance and insight. Catch it while you can.”
Booking until 10 June with tickets still available from the Almeida. And for more crackling contemporary drama, check out new play Late Company.