Annie Baker’s newest play, John, marks a turning point in her style as a writer. She has already made her mark for stellar dialogue and pointed portrayal of modern-day America. It is apparent from John that her style is maturing and evolving which brings about exciting prospects but also a new set of challenges. Writing-wise, John, is a very traditional play. The structure gives way to a slow and delightfully tense build-up however it starts to drag towards the end which undermines the payoff, unfortunately. Even though the ending is satisfying, is it worth the wait and the build up over 3 hours? It feels like there is some element that is lacking in this marathon of a play.
The cast does a wonderful job of making sense of the text and it is not an easy one. With, John, Annie Baker has confirmed that she is a writer to be taken seriously, with dramas that give Chekhov a run for his money. Marylousie Burke makes the audience tear up with laughter as the peculiar bed and breakfast owner Mertis, and June Watson delivers one of the most powerful monologues seen on the English stage with perfect clarity as the slightly mad Genevieve. Tom Mothersdale and Anneika Rose work in perfect harmony with each other as Elias and Jenny, a couple on the verge of breaking up, but their performance is slightly upstaged by Burke and Watson’s energetic performance.
John, is a fantastic play, albeit an overly long one. It can be enjoyed by different generations on various levels and is, therefore, a good one to bring your grandma to, next time she visits. - Disa Andersen