I love it when I disagree with the critics. No, really I do. I’m fascinated that we can all have such widely variant opinions on the same thing – and I’m very happy for mine to be challenged. While for me, Photograph 51 never really developed into compelling drama, most overnight critics have awarded it four stars (well, apart from The Hollywood Reporter, whose judgment was more in line with mine – but they don’t use star ratings).

One thing that we all couldn’t resist, and almost every review opens with: the marked difference between Nicole Kidman‘s new cerebral stage vehicle and her last, sexually charged London stage appearance in David Hare’s The Blue Room at the Donmar Warehouse 17 years ago, which was famously dubbed “pure theatrical Viagra” by now-retired Daily Telegraph critic Charles Spencer.

Meanwhile, as with any celebrity West End appearance, we have coverage of Kidman being ‘mobbed’ by fans at the stage door, speculation about her relationships (particularly with her singer husband Keith Urban and whether they may or may not be having another baby) and rehashing of her Hollywood past (Tom Cruise). There are also some interesting features and opinions on the real woman who Kidman plays, the late DNA scientist Rosalind Franklin. Was the robbed of the Nobel Prize?

Photograph 51 is booking at the West End’s Noel Coward until 18 November 2015.


You could hardly have a greater contrast than with Nicole Kidman’s last appearance on the London stage. In David Hare’s The Blue Room (1998) she played 10 starkly revealing women in a…
Dominic Cavendish: This time, there’s no disrobing (however fleeting). As presented in Photograph 51, Franklin is so buttoned-up it’s rare to see her flash a smile… But Kidman displays once again the power to hold usin thrall. Although her kit is Fifties demure, the caboodle of her nuancedperformance is the stuff of intoxication.
THE TIMES – ★★★★
Ann Treneman: The last time that Nicole Kidman was on stage in London, 17 years ago, her performance in The Blue Room, at times semi-clad, was described as “pure theatrical Viagra”. This time, in Photograph 51, she is providing thrills of a different kind… The play (90 minutes long) may be set in the Fifties, but it feels modern…
Ben Brantley: As directed by Grandage, with a wintry set by Christopher Oram that conjures a London in ashes after World War II, Photograph 51 sustains a crisp dramatic tension even when it skirts banality or expository tedium. And Kidman, who turns Franklin’s guardedness into as much a revelation as a concealment of character, is pretty close to perfection.
Paul Taylor: The actress nails to a nicety Franklin’s high-handed brusqueness, comically described by her research assistant as like being addressed by a French person who insists on speaking English so as to rub your nose in the inadequacy of your French.
Quentin Letts: Science is not easy to portray on stage but Michael Grandage’s fluent direction and Nicole Kidman’s stellar control make Photograph 51 a gripping, if slightly frosty affair… This brilliant X-ray scientist could have been a little more transparent, showing a little more flesh and blood.
THE STAGE – ★★★★
Mark Shenton: Star power may have brought this play to the West End, but Nicole Kidman proves that she’s worthy of the showcase… Here she doesn’t strip physically, as she famously did then, but the emotional layers are gradually exposed no less revealingly.
Libby Purves: Kidman gives a quite wonderful performance. She’s restrained, fine-judged, tensely weary andluminous in stillness or crackling with energy as the prickly, driven,brilliant biophysicist
Matt Wolf: Under the direction of Grandage, Kidman is even better communicating a life of the mind than she was all those years ago allowing the briefest glimpse possible of her body. As savvy about-faces from Oscar-winning performers go, this one is going to prove hard to top.
Stephen Dalton: Nicole Kidman returns to the West End to play scientist and feminist icon Rosalind Franklin, long denied full credit for her groundbreaking work on DNA… Kidman just about manages to shine, despite uninspired staging and dowdy source material.
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