Page extent: 142
ISBN: 9781870259194
Binding: PaperBack

Absolute Hell

Rodney Ackland

PaperBack (23 Dec 1996)

Condemned as a "libel on the British people" when it was first produced in 1951, Absolute Hell is set in a decaying West End drinking club at the end of the Second World War. The 1995 production at the Royal National Theatre starred Judi Dench and was directed by Anthony Page.

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Additional Information

ISBN13 9781870259194
Binding PaperBack
Page Extent 142


'Ackland’s play is a strange and lengthy affair that mixes tender empathy and a painterly eye for the mania of life during wartime with some jarringly cruel farcical moments... as a historical document of a swirling nocturnal London – now very long gone – it feels vital. It has something more transcendent to say about the allure of nightlife, the strange bedfellows it breeds, the means by which it exists to alleviate loneliness as much as to facilitate joy.' Time Out ★★★★ 

'A bold and ambitious play, fascinating and provocative, a kind of living Hogarth portrait of a Blitz-ravaged London.' The Stage ★★★★

'Shock and outrage are no longer what make Absolute Hell notable, but there was always much more to it than that, and thankfully we can appreciate that now. Like former punk icons, it deserves its place among the establishment.' Radio Times ★★★★

'The play is still rather shocking, not so much for its depictions of homo- and bisexuality, casual libertinage and a kind of determined alcoholism, but for the unjudgmental yet unyielding gaze with which it regards them... feels contemporary both to the events depicted and to the audience now watching them. It’s sometimes deceptively difficult viewing, but it’s well worth meeting the challenge.' Financial Times ★★★★ 

‘Overlooked… ahead of its time… there's a desire to wrestle with big themes that's unusual in English theatre… he has rarity value’ Independent

‘Rodney Ackland's scandalous black comedy’ BBC Four

Absolute Hell is so ambitiously audacious that you find yourself gunning for it to succeed… What's striking about this play… is its daring verbal and sexual content... It's not about working-class angst, granted, but Absolute Hell otherwise makes Look Back in Anger look milquetoast’ Chicago Tribune

‘Rodney Ackland’s fascinating, long-ignored play Absolute Hell [is an] ambitious, intensely populated production… It is worth paying a visit to Rodney Ackland’s very mid-20th century English version of Hell’ Sun Times