By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHEN?: Thursday 3 February (matinee), running to 5 March RUNTIME: 120 minutes (including 20-minute interval)
Zmitrowicz made our Best Theatre Actress shortlist in 2020 for The Welkin at the National and during her impressive body of work we have already described her as ‘captivating in a role that we felt should have been better explored’ by the author.
- Read on for reasons including how this has the ambition of 1 of the best Doctor Who episodes
She previously appeared in author Alistair McDowall’s play X at the Royal Court and, once again, Zmitrowicz proves as the character of Woman here that even without lines, or hoarse and struggling to make herself understood, she can convey both animalism and fear.
We’ve read some very timid reviews of The Glow, which has already opened and is our 1st McDowall play, and we feel the audience needs to know more than the atmospheric 1st act in which Woman is discovered abandoned in a 19th Century mental institution and rescued by Ayola’s sinister spiritualist Mrs Lyall.
Ayola is genuinely terrifying as a mother who has alienated her son, brought to life by Fisayo Akinade (Barber Shop Chronicles, National Theatre) who is driven to drink by the heartlessness of his selfish mother who constantly reminds him of his failures.
Mrs Lyall, however, gets more than she bargained for at the end of a truly eerie 1st act in which we discover that Woman is far more adept at summoning spirits than we could ever have imagined.
This Thursday matinee audience is older than normal and we hear one couple explaining to an usher why they will not be returning after the interval because the play is not for them.
It is during Act 2 however where McDowall’s imagination runs riot and his canvas is widened to go back and forth to different periods of time. It’s ambition is up there with some of the best episodes of Doctor Who.
Themes explored include the power of love and how people who treat each other well can reap the rewards. While bullying others never ends well for anyone.
The Glow is bold and inventive, perhaps better suited to a TV audience, and days after seeing it we’re still thinking about it which is always a good sign.