Programme Review: Scenes from an Execution – National Theatre

A series of reviews of theatre programmes

Scenes from an Execution by Howard Barker, National Theatre

When purchased:

The Olivier Café before the performance, 23rd October




68 of which 31 are production specific and there are no adverts in the production section

Notable adverts:

  • The American Academy of Dramatic Arts
  • Neptune Investment Management
  • Cheltenham Ladies, Malvern College, Sevenoaks School


No production photos, 6+ pages of rehearsal photos


  • Single page listing principal cast and creatives
  • One page on access and associated events
  • Three page essay on the playwright
  • Five page essay on ascent of female artists
  • Two page essay on the Battle of Lepanto
  • One page essay on the Doge of Venice
  • Eight pages of cast and creative bios


The essay on the Doge of Venice doesn’t actually tell the reader what a Doge is! – We learn some Doges exceeded their authority, but we don’t know what their role in Venetian society was. Similarly the ‘essay’ on the battle is random excerpts describing the battle from a number of sources and doesn’t really give any insight into the scale of the battle or its importance in Venetian history. The essay on female artists is more interesting.


3 out of 5 – Good value at £3, but gives no hint as to what the play is about and the background material feels like it has been lazily compiled.

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