A Very Expensive Poison at the Old Vic

14th September 2019

By Sabrina Lemer

A Very Expensive Poison is quite a comedic look at a very serious incident of Russian espionage that directly links to Vladimir Putin.  I have always had a secret crush on Putin ( it could be his amazing amount of black belts in different disciplines in martial arts that I find really attractive) but now I’m leaning towards being more in fear of him and his leadership tactics. Lucy Pebble’s play based on the book by Luke Harding, is inventive and creative, she uses comedy and all different ways to tell this story so that the actual horrific nature of what happened is totally diffused. The play has musical elements, puts the actors in the audience, uses the audience to read parts of the play.  People were laughing throughout until the end when you’re reminded that this was a true story.  This nightmare happened in London, in this decade and has probably happened more that we can ever imagine.

Though the play is long ( a bit too long for me) and it weaves its story from a hospital room to Russia with ease.  The acting is excellent though some of the accent switches were confusing to me.  We had some technical difficulties which definitely disrupted the flow but the actors came back on without missing a beat and kept it all in check.  The second half is absolutely amazing, too bad it couldn’t have just started at the intermission, the second half was really what new theatre should be about, different and keeps your attention and plays with the boundaries of traditional play genres.  Go see it at the Old Vic.

In the theatre until October 5th 2019. You can get tickets from

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