Review Roundup: Master Harold and the boys now showing at the National Theatre

The reviews are in for the revival of Athol Fugard's apartheid piece, Master Harold and the boys, which continues to move London audiences at the Lyttelton, National Theatre. The show is directed by Nine Night's Roy Alexander Weise and is booking until mid-December. Read what the critics have been saying about this thought-provoking South African play below.

Master Harold and the boys now showing at the Lyttelton Theatre

Starring Lucian Msamati (Kiri, Amadeus) as Sam, Hammed Animashaun (A Midsummer Night's DreamBarber Shop Chronicles) as Willie, and Anson Boon (The Alienist, Blackbird) as Hally, 'Master Harold' ...and the boys is now playing at the National's Lyttelton Theatre

Master Harold is set in 1950's South Africa during the apartheid era. It opens on a long rainy afternoon at St George's Park Tea Room in Port Elizabeth where the establishment's two employees Sam and Willie practise their steps for the upcoming ballroom dancing championship. Their friend Hally comes to hide in his parents' tea room after school and it becomes clear that Sam and Willie have been Hally's best unlikely friends in his whole life. But the apartheid setting makes Hally Master Harold while Sam and Willie are just the boys.

Written by Tony Award-winning playwright Athol Fugard'Master Harold' ...and the boys explores the human condition as even the kindest of people are capable of turning around and hurting the ones that they hold dear.

Now let's see how the critics have handled it...

What the critics are saying about Master Harold and the boys at the National Theatre

"Fugard's mastery of structure becomes very clear, as does the reason behind Weise's decision to sit back and let the words do the work.
— Tim Bano for The Stage

★★★★
"One of the many extraordinary qualities of the play is how brutally honest Fugard is, looking back on his own behaviour with shame and understanding; another is the way that sense of shame – and by implication, its effect on the white population of South Africa – becomes its theme.
— Sarah Crompton for WhatsOnStage

★★★★
"Like Willie, it can be a bit slow and it doesn't always get the steps right, but when it does it is a thing of beauty.
— Chris Bennion for The Times

★★★★
"For all that ‘Master Harold’ eventually cuts deep, it remains an old-fashioned sort of revival of an old-fashioned play, and it’s powered by the old-fashioned virtue of great acting, most specifically from Msamati.
 Andrzej Lukowski for Time Out

★★★
"Seeing the play for the first time since 1983, I was struck by Hally’s obnoxiousness and the divine patience of Sam and Willie: also by the way the writing is overfull of self- conscious set pieces based on the recollected past. 

"The house rose to the actors at the end but I still found myself wishing that Fugard’s self-flagellating play told us less about Master Harold and more about the 'boys'
." ⁠
— Michael Billington for The Guardian

★★★
"Lucian Msamati and Hammed Animashaun give dignified, layered performances as black servants Sam and Willie. Their fragile camaraderie with his patronising young son Hally/Harold (Anson Boon, impressive but sometimes ungoverned) depends on his mood​.
— Nick Curtis for the Evening Standard


Official Master Harold National Theatre tickets on sale now from £35 with no booking fees!

Don't miss the critically acclaimed revival of Master Harold and the boys, which is only playing at the Lyttelton Theatre (National) for a limited time until 16 December 2019. Book your Master Harold tickets today and save on no booking fees!


Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels

Ephram is a jack of all trades and enjoys attending theatre, classical music concerts and the opera.


Related news

New VR theatre experience "Petrichor" coming this December!

Posted on | By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels |

A brand-new virtual reality theatre experience presented by Theatre Royal Stratford East is set to arrive this holida... Read more

2020 Olivier Award winners to be announced digitally on 25 October

Posted on | By Nicholas Ephram Ryan Daniels |

This year's Olivier Award winners will be revealed as part of a digital ceremony to be broadcast on Magic FM... Read more

The Stage Debut Awards winners announced – including Sam Tutty, Shan Ako and Daniel Monks

Posted on | By Jade Ali |

The winners of The Stage Debut Awards were announced last night (27 September) in a virtual ceremony filmed at the We... Read more

Follow us for instant updates and special offers

Sign up to our mailing list and be the first to hear about new West End shows and exclusive ticket discounts. We value your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time. But we hope you won’t!