And so, we emerged bleary eyed on the morning after the press night before to gobble nurofen and glug triple espresso shots while ripping through the newsprint to discover the fate of Artefacts.
And here's the verdict:
"Mike Bartlett, still only in his mid-twenties, is a dramatist of rare economy and dramatic power…There is barely a wasted word in a piece that begins in the personal and gradually expands into the political, so that what starts as a story of a troubled family ends up as an account of a devastated nation. This is dramatic writing of a very high order indeed…a meticulously crafted play…James Grieve directs an excellently acted, in-the-round production for the Nabokov theatre company, with a dazzling performance from Lizzy Watts as the confused, angry and often deliciously comic Kelly."
Charles Spencer – Daily Telegraph
“[Artefacts] vividly demonstrates British-Iraqi misunderstanding…Bartlett also gives Ibrahim, played with massive troubled dignity by Peter Polycarpou, a tremendous speech in which he shatters the illusion, peddled by face-saving politicians, that Iraq is gradually returning to normality…Bartlett lets nobody off the hook…James Grieve's urgent production is eminently worth catching."
Michael Billington – The Guardian
"Bartlett shows a real flair for dramatising different sides of the argument…The play manages to express so much that seems tragic and true about Iraq while gripping us with its formal devices of monologue, parenthetical scenes made up of the stash of letters, entire exchanges in Arabic and smart stabs of political and cultural history…James Grieve’s acute production for Nabokov…Lucy Osborne’s design is just right for the conversational tone set by Lizzy Watts’s motormouth Kelly, an outstanding performance…Peter Polycarpou rumbles with dignity and pent-up passion as Ibrahim, while Mouna Albakry as Faiza and Amy Hamdoon as her daughter play with impressive serenity."
Michael Coveney – Whatsonstage.com
"Mike Bartlett's story is notable not just for a couple of strong performances but also as a welcome change…This is a play teachers, Education Ministers and advertising agency executives should see, to grasp what an immature country they are creating."
Quentin Letts – Daily Mail
"Written with great economy, humour and theatrical verve, Mike Bartlett’s fascinating new play…acutely observed and utterly convincing…all in all, this an outstanding piece of new writing."
Aleks Sierz – The Stage
So, yippee say we!
The Evening Standard, The Times and Metro didn't like it as much, but we like to think that's their loss. And obviously we didn't get reviewed in The Sun, The Mirror or The Express - the image at the top was lazily whipped from Google Images to save us a grapple with Photoshop. Oh, cut us some slack, we're hungover.
We'll post more reviews as they are published. Meantime, the box office number is 020 7610 4224 or you can book online to see some "dazzling", "gripping", "outstanding", "urgent" etc new theatre.