Ibsen thought this his most important play, but with a potential running

time of eight hours, you’re unlikely to get the chance to see it again.

So all

credit to the National for putting on Jonathan Kent’s mixed dress production (a

British premiere) of this 1873 epic, cut to three and a half hours in Ben Power’s lucid


The magnificent staging makes full use of the revolve and 50-strong cast.

Andrew Scott is magnetic as the fanatical Julian (AD331 – 363) who was

raised a Christian but, encouraged by Ian McDiarmid’s mystic Maximus, embraced pagan beliefs well before his brief, tyrannical reign as Emperor of


However it’s still a long haul as Julian searches for truth from Constantinople

to Gaul to the Persian desert – and one with only limited appeal.


Olivier at the National, South Bank, SE1 9PX
020 7452 3000
Tube: Waterloo
In rep till 10th August
£12 – £30 as part of the

Travelex season

– Louise Kingsley