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National Theatre Live: Obsession (2017)

A drifter falls for a married woman at road side diner and the two plot to kill her husband.


Jan Peter Gerrits (adaptation), Simon Stephens | 1 more credit »




Credited cast:
Jude Law ... Gino
Chukwudi Iwuji
Robert de Hoog
Halina Reijn
Aysha Kala
Gijs Scholten van Aschat Gijs Scholten van Aschat
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A drifter falls for a married woman at road side diner and the two plot to kill her husband.

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User Reviews

Destructive passion
3 June 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have always loved seeing the National Theatre Live productions. And in such an accessible way too in terms of price and location, yet the atmosphere is so authentic. The same goes for opera and ballet at the cinema. A vast majority of productions of theatre, opera and ballet shown on these live screenings are long in length but when done right it is a more than very rewarding evening. And that is the case with most seen, though there has been the odd disappointment.

This production of an unfamiliar, prior to watching, play to me 'Obsession' is an interesting one. Have seen much better productions from the National Theatre Live series to be honest, ones that consistently engaged and moved me. It is far from a disappointment, because on the whole it was a good production with much to admire. Will admit to not being the biggest fan of the play 'Obsession' itself, like its atmosphere and it is a long way from passionless. It is not always easy to follow though and Hanna's motives especially of the characters are underdeveloped and don't always make sense. Just personal opinion though and probably not one shared by many.

Minimalist production design can go either way. There are times where it can be distracting and makes one wonder why the choice was made and why the designers/director didn't go for the more traditional approach (especially when there is a time period and setting that's specific). There are other times where it's interesting, adds to the drama and when the concept is explained beforehand it makes more sense, regardless of whether you agree with it or not. In the case of 'Obsession', the approach does not distract and fits with the production's/play's themes. The same goes for the sparseness, as the use of dialogue and music are sparse too. Visually in this case, it is not quite to my taste, the drab, dim look doesn't attract and at times it was too dark.

'Obsession's' drama does grip thanks to the performances and their chemistry, but when one is trying to figure out what's going on it does perplex at the same time.

However, the choice to have the music sparsely used was not a bad one. That way the drama had more intimacy, and when the music was used it didn't feel random in placement and to me it fitted the tone. The dialogue is also sparse, again an interesting choice and doesn't come off too badly. It is thoughtful dialogue and doesn't get over-heated. The direction is very sympathetic to the cast and doesn't allow the production to lose momentum, even if the clarity isn't always there.

Really felt the full impact of 'Obsession's' theme of destructive passion. There is plenty of passion, thanks to the cast and their chemistry again, and it is intense and moving. The reason to see 'Obsession' is the cast, with everybody being uniformly outstanding. Jude Law especially is an absolute powerhouse, some of his best acting in quite some time and he is riveting in his chemistry with heartfelt Halina Reijn. The editing is indeed never too fancy and neither does it feel too restricted. With the way the production was filmed for the live screening, one really does see the power of what is going on on stage and you see things, big and little, that is not noticed in the theatre, another remarkable thing about these live cinema screenings.

In conclusion, it sounds from my review that this production is a bad one. Actually found a lot to admire about it and could see that a lot of effort went into it, but if it was a play that appealed to me more it would have been an even better experience. 7/10

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Release Date:

11 May 2017 (USA) See more »

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National Theatre Live: Obsession See more »


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Barbican Centre See more »
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