THE GUARDIAN: The Emperor review – Kathryn Hunter’s shape-shifting brilliance

(This review refers to an earlier production of The Emperor at the Young Vic, London.)


By Susannah Clapp

The Young Vic is London’s most lovable theatre. The building welcomes; the programming dares. It offers danger in a safe place.

As in Walter Meierjohann’s production of The Emperor, which begins by captivating and goes on to skewer. The Polish journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuściński pulled off a remarkable feat in his 1978 book, conjuring up the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie through the memories of his servants. In 1987 Jonathan Miller and Michael Hastings startled the stage with their adaptation. Now Colin Teevan has written a version in which an entire country is conjured up by only two performers.