“The Grapes of Wrath” at Chichester Festival Theatre: Reviews

Please note: I won’t make an individual entry for each review. They’ll all be collected here in this post (latest first), so check back for updates. To read the full reviews at the sources, please click on the individual links.


“(…) I have to admit that I was bowled over by the production. It was one of the finest pieces of theatre that I have seen this year – even beating Helen Mirren in Phedre. I was totally absorbed in the story and loved every minute of it. (…)”


“(…) A very moving and well performed play. It is perhaps the best thing I have seen at Chichester for a long time. Everything came together to give a stunning evening. The acting was superb. (…)”


“(…) But “The Grapes of Wrath” is a success because it invites us to look back: it’s not a perfect production, however, it does open the window on a world which we have thankfully left behind. (…)”


“(…) All the same, an excellent evening of real theatre. (…)”


“(…) The theme of American dystopia continues as the panel discuss a stage adaptation of Steinbeck’s classic depression-era novel The Grapes of Wrath. (…)”

Pointing out social injustice = communist propaganda? The more you know… Available worldwide.


Christopher Timothy talks about his work on “The Grapes of Wrath” and draws parallels between the Great Depression and the current situation. Different times, different place but sadly, history is repeating itself. Contains slideshow with pictures from the play. Available worldwide.


“(…) Oliver Cotton, Sorcha Cusack, Damian O’Hare and Christopher Timothy are the names, but none of them stands out – which is exactly as it should be. The point is they are all in it together through thick and thin and even thinner. (…)”


“(…) This production has within the company some fine performers, in the lead male role of Tom Joad; Damian O’ Hare brings power and control to a man struggling to keep his moral compass in the most trying of times. It is a performance of raw physicality aligned to good vocal control and a sharp accent. (…)”


“(…) Damian O’Hare gave an exceptional performance as Tom Joad, returning from prison to find his family life ravaged by the prolonged lack of rain – forced to leave his family again but pledging to preach the word that the poor must band together for their rights. (…)”


“(…) Damian O’Hare is compelling as Tom Joad, not ashamed of doing what a man has to do, with Christopher Timothy as his father keeping the show on the road. (…)”



Jude Loseby, Damian O'Hare and Kassie Bull in "The Grapes of Wrath". (c) Evening Standard/A. Muir

“(…) After a somewhat sluggish first hour, the ensemble comes alive, and the play’s mood, initially didactic and lumpily portentous, grows more tightly poetic and tense. Parts may seem dated but the anger is still raw, and in this ambitious production its power is slowly revealed. (…)”



Jude Loseby, Damian O'Hare, Kassie Bull, Christopher Timothy and Sorcha Cusack in "The Grapes of Wrath" at Chichester Festival Theatre. (c) Times/D. Cooper

“(…) Prime among them is son Tom, who has killed a man in a fight but is now on parole from prison. Damian O’Hare, who plays him, remains cleaner than anyone should after 2,000 miles of dirt, dust and desert, but he has much of the vigour and charisma that Gary Sinise brought to Galati’s production at the Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, in the 1980s. (…)”


has been fantastic again and put a gallery with production shots online. Click either the link above or the picture below to see more.


Oliver Cotton as Jim Casy and Damian O'Hare as Tom Joad in "The Grapes of Wrath" at Chichester Festival Theatre. (c) CFT


“(…) The play, of course, will not be to all tastes. As a slice of social history it is a remarkable achievement – but there is no joy to be discerned. There is, too, a warning for us all – for the plight of the Joads was the result of economic crisis and environmental folly. The past can have an unhappy knack of returning. (…)”


“(…) Excellent on so many levels. (…)” *****

“(…) Well done to all I heartily reccommend this show. (…)” *****


“(…) Christopher Timothy is rather faceless as Pa Joad and Damian O’Hare as Tom, the honest murderer who picks up the preacher’s burden, is not always distinct. (…)”

“(…) Great novels rarely make great plays but this production does more than enough to confirm that The Grapes of Wrath is a (dated) masterpiece. (…)”

The irony of the Financial Times calling Steinbeck’s work “dated”…


“(…) And, although many of the roles are generalised, key performers stand out: Damian O’Hare as the increasingly militant Tom Joad, Oliver Cotton as the ex-preacher who substitutes political for religious faith, Sorcha Cusack as the indomitable Ma Joad and Rebecca Night as Rose of Sharon, who inherits her compassion and, at the last, suckles a starving man. (…)”


“(…) An arduous evening certainly but, while we can still afford work on this scale, one that’s well worth braving. (…)”

AUDIENCE REACTION (quoted with permission)

Mail from the Cox family in B.  – their daughter, who’s currently living abroad (and a PotC fan!), is here for a visit and they took her to see “The Grapes of Wrath”. Mr. Cox writes that it’s one of the best productions they’ve ever seen in Chichester, (he also mentions a previous production of “Wallenstein” which must have been really good), that they were very impressed by the stage design and that all of the cast was superb, with special mentions for Sorcha Cusack as Ma Joad. As for Damian O’Hare as Tom Joad:

“(…) we hardly dared breathe what a stage presence! Thats what I call acting what a gifted young man really outstanding pasionate performance! We’ll get tickets for August (…)”


“(…) Damian Hare, whilst giving a strong performance as Tom Joad, is guilty of allowing his American accent to obscure some of his dialogue – a problem shared by other members of the cast.

That said, this is theatre at its best. (…)”


“(…) As the hot-headed son Tom, Damian O’Hare provides plenty of fire but his delivery isn’t all it should be – although the pivotal “I’ll be there” speech is imbued with real passion.

This is a powerful a piece of theatre; a work that grabs the audience’s attention from the off and holds it spellbound. (…)”


“(… ) Tom, the convict on licence played by Damian O’Hare, is a man of many parts, who develops a philosophical attitude which is not always at one with his understandable anger. (…)”

“(…) The tensions of the situation are well developed by the whole cast with a special mention of Richard Kane’s role as grandfather. An evening of provocative theatre. (…)”

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