10 September 2020, The Tablet

Ralph Fiennes is a joy to watch in David Hare's Beat the Devil at the Bridge Theatre


Theatre

Ralph Fiennes is a joy to watch in David Hare's Beat the Devil at the Bridge Theatre

Ralph Fiennes is a compelling stand-in for Hare at the Bridge
Photo: Manuel Harlan

 

Beat the Devil
Bridge Theatre, London

We are leaving lockdown in a series of phases, which the re-opening of the playhouses reflects. My return to reviewing has moved through a pre-recorded sound installation indoors (Blindness at the Donmar), live performance outdoors (Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), and now, finally, physical acting inside.

Beat the Devil at the Bridge Theatre is rather like watching King Lear on a blasted medieval heath, or The Sound of Music from an Austrian alp, content and context coming together. In this case, Covid-19.

Sir David Hare’s 50-minute monologue reports on the 73-year-old dramatist’s own 16-day serious infection with the virus in March: bed-bound, unable to eat, fearing that he was dying, but refusing to go to hospital, convinced that admission would make death inevitable.

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