Despite Anne-Marie Duff’s best efforts Common is awful.
Clocking in at a flabby and lumbering 3 hours it’s about 2 hours too long – and as far as I can see, for no discernible reason. I can only assume director Jeremy Herrin and The National had booked the theatre for the evening and thought they might as well make full use of the time.
I’ve no doubt Common discusses a very turbulent and historically important period in British history – the enclosure acts, the divvying up of the British countryside and removal of significant swathes of common land free to be farmed by the public – in short the birth of capitalism. But that fact seems purely incidental, and it’s never really gone into in any detail whatsoever, instead we seem to get whipped up into a Wickerman-esque rural mêlée complete with masks… LOTS of drony chanting and absolutely nothing else.
I think The National could do with being a bit more discerning with it’s programming – big themes do not necessarily mean good plays.