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Theatre review: A New World - A Life of Thomas Paine 
19th-Sep-2009 06:07 pm
tragicomedavatar
Biography isn't my favourite genre, especially when, like Trevor Griffiths' A New World - A Life of Thomas Paine, it tries to fit in all the significant events of a person's life rather than concentrating on one notable period. Indeed there were times during this 3-hour show that my attention wandered, but for most of its run Dominic Dromgoole's production keeps up the pace as it follows the author of Rights of Man, first in his part in the American War of Independence, and then, in the stronger second half, getting into trouble during the French Revolution. John Light ably carries the play in the title role, and much of the supporting cast is from the Globe's current As You Like It - they all back him up very well but James Garnon's scene-stealing Danton and Keith Bartlett's Benjamin Franklin as narrator stand out. An interesting look at a historical figure who's probably better-known in America than his country of birth, although a bit too long - by the end Griffiths can't resist the temptation to throw in one more anecdote about Paine's later life, when it might have worked better to wrap things up.

A New World - A Life of Thomas Paine by Trevor Griffiths is booking until the 9th of October at Shakespeare's Globe.
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