Considering some of the wildly uncool big bucks choices he’s made on screen, erstwhile Doctor Who Matt Smith has been oddly cagey about just cashing his fame in order to do a big West End play. In 2013 he did the musical ‘American Psycho’ at the tiny Almeida Theatre; in 2016 he did the very weird Royal Court play ‘Unreachable’; ‘Lungs’, from 2019, played at the massive Old Vic, but only for a couple of weeks.
Finally, though, he’ll be returning to the West End proper for the first time in over 15 years with ‘An Enemy of the People’.
Moderate theatre nerds will be aware that it’s a very famous play by Henrik Ibsen about Doctor Stockmann, a scientist who discovers that the supposed healing waters of his hometown’s baths are contaminated, setting him on a catastrophic collision course with pretty much everyone he knows and loves.
Hardcore theatre nerds will be delighted to discover that this is the English-language premiere of a legendary production by Thomas Ostermeier, artistic director of Germany’s renowned Schaubühne Berlin – they may even have seen it, as it’s previously toured to the Barbican.
Whatever the case, Smith should bring a totally different energy to Ostermeier’s setpiece climax, in which the actor playing Stockmann – ie Smith – opens up the ethical debate to the actual audience. Whether it’ll rattle along as intended, turn into an episode of ‘Question Time’, or get bogged down in blushing Doctor Who fans is TBC, but it’s quite a thrill that we’re getting two straight months of it.
‘An Enemy of the People’ is at the Duke of York’s Theatre, Feb 26-Apr 6 2024. Tickets go on sale September 21, or September 20 if you sign up here.
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