Critical Condition: Catherine the Great

Catherine there Great | SoHo2, 8.30 Wednesday

☆☆☆ “The great handicap of HBO’s new four-part costume drama Catherine the Great is that she’s not Henry VIII. Little common knowledge can be assumed and an awful lot of time and effort has to be spent explaining quite where we are and who has done what to whom to get us there … The parts are all good – the scenery, the performances, the script – but they add up to slightly less than their sum.” — The Guardian.

☆☆☆ “Fabulous as the sets are, they pale next to the magnificence of Helen Mirren, looking as creamily ageless as though she’s bathed in all the caviar of Lake Baikal.” — Financial Times.

☆☆☆Catherine the Great is an attempt to splice the historical grandeur of The Crown … It achieves that, with sumptuous sets and costumes, and a galloping pace of palace rumpy-pumpy that would tax a warren full of rabbits on Viagra.” — Daily Mail.

☆☆☆Catherine the Great is the historical drama series I’ve been waiting for: massive, lush, beautiful, and with an element that’s so often missing in big dramas about major figures: incredibly human … Mirren is, of course, the bejewelled centrepiece of the drama, but there is a strong supporting cast.” — The Telegraph.

☆☆ “What to do about the horse-shagging is a central problem of any adaptation of the life of history’s most infamous horse-shagger. To exclude it seems prudish, but the opposite is unthinkable — even Mirren wouldn’t do that. The producers have ended up trying to have their cake and eat it by presenting Catherine as someone who both enjoyed sex and hated it.” — The Times.

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