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Joseph Millson (Alexander), Toby Jones (Ivanov) and Dan Stevens (a violin-playing doctor) perform with perfect pitch in a play that brilliantly counters Soviet iron with Stoppardian irony, and shows the terrors of living in an orchestrated society

Michael Billington from The Guardian awarded 4 stars. 

In the National Theatre's new production, Joseph Millson, as the dissident Alexander, and Toby Jones, as the triangle-obsessed Ivanov, give accomplished and genuinely moving performances.

Music OHM

Here, under the direction of Felix Barrett and Tom Morris, Toby Jones makes the madman a sadder figure, truly haunted by the music he can't escape, while Joseph Millson dominates with the dissident's righteous anger.

Theatre Guide London  

Moreover the ending, which could seem sentimental, isn't at all. I won't reveal the details, just say that Millson hardly reacts when Hannah reaches towards him. He sits motionless in his wheelchair, a wizened figure staring intensely ahead and leaving me, for one, to wonder what time and place is riveting him. A future Russia? A future world? This superb revival leaves you hoping not but fearing so.

Benedict Nightingale from The Times awarded the play 5 stars.

The two actors, Toby Jones and Joseph Millson, interpret Stoppard like a Kafka meditation, a haunting realization of an individual’s impotence in the face of state injustice. The play feels so much like a warning from history that you wince as you laugh at its jokes. Terrible and funny, “EGBDF” takes us back to the nightmare years we thought we’d never see again.

Norman Lebrecht for Bloomberg  

The fact that it may be the lunatics who are running the asylum is neatly articulated by Dan Stevens’ very funny turn as the doctor, while Toby Jones brings his wayward eccentricity to the role of Ivanov and Joseph Millson’s gauntly physical turn as dissident Alexander, provide moving contrasts in the fine line between the mental territories they occupy.

Mark Shenton for The Stage.  

The other (let’s call him Alexander), played with lugubrious intensity by Joseph Millson, is a political prisoner. “Your opinions are your symptoms,” the doctor tells him. “Your madness is dissent.” All he needs to do to be released is to recant and declare himself cured — but he refuses to give the state that much. Instead, he goes on hunger strike, determined to die on principle, even at the cost of orphaning his son Sasha.

Sam Leith of the Sunday Times awarded four stars.  

Where number 1 is happy as long as his orchestra is playing, Joseph Millson as number 2 wishes to denounce and attack the regime, going on hunger strike to get heard. Their stories advance in disturbing parallel to a delightful comic dénouement, with sanity proving far more of an impediment than criticism when the doctor visits. Both actors play their parts perfectly but that is only a small element of this evening.

Joseph Millson is similarly convincing as the shaven-headed Alexander wrestling with the lunacy of his own predicament – that he is a sane man who, in a Catch 22 situation, will only be released when he admits he is mentally ill and denies that sane people get locked up in mental institutions.

Going by the programme photos, Millson has lost considerable weight during rehearsals, painting a gaunt and deeply distressing portrait of a man horrendously mistreated and yet fervently standing up for his principles, even against the anguished entreaties of his son who begs him to lie to escape the asylum.

The Daily Express Julie Carpenter 

Tom Stoppard's Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National is my dream play. Yes, yes, it's a brilliant and chilling indictment of Soviet treatment of political dissidents. The performances by Joseph Millson, Toby Jones and Dan Stevens are pitch perfect. But you know why I loved it? It's 65 minutes long with no interval.

Evening Standard