Photograph 51 (West End) Review


Nicole Kidman – Rosalind Franklin

Stephen Campbell Moore – Maurice Wilkins

Will Attenborough – James Watson

Edward Bennett – Francis Crick

Patrick Kennedy – Don Caspar

Joshua Silver – Ray Gosling

Show Date – Wednesday 13th October (3pm)

The story of how Rosalind Franklin’s determination to succeed in a very male world and make breakthrough discoveries for science. How it was not easy for her when she did not show interest in anything but her work, that is what she lived for. The play took on a few hints of possible romance and getting close to someone. But nothing was really followed through with that and it was more of a background mention or slight mention.

I will admit that I did not do a lot of research prior to going to see the play and therefore my knowledge of the subject and Frankin was very low. I think that was both a positive and negative thing really, as it allowed me to be totally open to the play and take in everything it had. The only then problem was that I didn’t know if the story being told was right or a little off the mark.

It was put together nicely with a pretty simplistic setting, showing that they were working underground, with desks being moved onto the stage for different scenes. Initially I thought it was going to drag a little as it is 95 minutes straight through with no interval. That was not the case, I see that as a big compliment for the actors in all honesty as it was very heavy to take on board at times.

I though a truly outstanding performance came from Will Attenborough as James Watson, he was so full of life and enthusiasm from start to finish. I really was impressed with the young actors performance, then as reading the programme and putting together this review I found out he is the grandson of Richard Attenborough, seriously what a talented family they have!

Nicole Kidman was the obvious reason for getting a ticket to see this play, I decided that as I already had a trip in place to London and this play just so happened to be on at the same time that I should jump at the chance to see an Academy Award winner on stage. I mean that is not something that happens everyday, especially when that also takes the form of a very popular and well known hollywood star.

It came at a good time to see the show after watching her interview on the Graham Norton show and admitting that she had been terrified of returning to the stage and that it was such a scary experience, but one that was getting easier as the shows went on. You would not have thought that watching it though, she has incredible stage presence and owned it constantly. With a small cast in the play Kidman was the only female, something that was very fitting in the story of Franklin women did not play a big part in her life it was dominated by men. In working terms and being inspired by her father.

I did enjoy the way the story was told with the different characters appearing to tell the story, fill the gaps between the time and moving around the stage. It was not very often they were off stage it was very constant and not possible for anyone to hide. That is something I am starting to appreciate in play’s as I have attended quite a few this year and been enjoying them a lot more than expected. It’s real live acting and you really do get to see acting at its very best.

It has made me take more notice of Franklin and the work she put together, with also a tragic end to her life at a young age of 37 years old. Which was a very sad moment in the play. I will say though that I am not sure if I enjoyed the way they decided to end it and try to change a few things it was just a little bit much with the questions raised for romance in her life. I thought it would have made a more powerful ending without that part.

I am quite undecided how I feel about the play as a whole I have been trying to digest it all since seeing it yesterday afternoon but still have not managed to come to a conclusion. Maybe theatre is just like that sometimes? Pleased to have had the pleasure of seeing an Oscar-winning actress on stage, Nicole Kidman is the real deal.

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