The Hard Problem

National Theatre

The Hard Problem

21 Jan 2015 - 27 May 2015

£15.00 - £50.00

Pro reviewers rating
11 reviews

3.1 out of 5.0
Peer reviewers rating
1 reviews

4.0 out of 5.0

Hilary, a young psychology researcher at a brain science institute, is nursing a private sorrow and a troubling question at work, where psychology and biology meet. If there is nothing but matter, what is consciousness?

This is 'the hard problem' which puts Hilary at odds with her colleagues who include her first mentor Spike, her boss Leo and the billionaire founder of the institute, Jerry. Is the day coming when the computer and the MRI scanner will answer all the questions psychology can ask? Meanwhile Hilary needs a miracle, and she is prepared to pray for one.


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“Amid the words, words, words, [Stoppard] and director... Hytner deliver spectacle, stimulation and preppy wryness. ”

Quentin Letts (Daily Mail)

“An intellectually charged piece that delights in the slippery nature of language and pulses with interesting ideas. ”

Henry Hitchings (Evening Standard)

“Stoppard’s play may not solve the hard problem of human consciousness. But it offers endless stimulation. ”

Michael Billington (The Guardian)

“Buzzes with complex ideas, passionately and wittily expressed, but...never quite exerts a strong enough grip as drama. ”

Paul Taylor (The Independent)

“Movingly wrestles with deep questions about what makes us who we are and with the implications of materialism. ”

Sarah Hemming (Financial Times)

“Nicholas Hytner signs off from his reign as the NT’s artistic director with a fine production of a flawed play. ”

Mark Shenton (The Stage, London Theatre, Express)

“Consciousness is the subject of Stoppard’s first full-length work in nine years but the play lacks his usual intellectual rigour”

Susannah Clapp (The Observer)

“As slippery as a bar of soap with the water running; the play's not so much beyond one's grasp as never quite within it. ”

Michael Coveney (What's on Stage, The Stage, Independent)

“A major disappointment... whereas Arcadia settled in your soul, The Hard Problem barely gets skin-deep. ”

Dominic Cavendish (The Telegraph)

“The Hard Problem is full of fiendishly intelligent people saying fiendishly intelligent things to each other. ”

Dominic Maxwell (The Times)

“Sadly, this intellectually clogged, emotionally thin piece is neither informative nor illuminating. ”

Michael Arditti (Express)

Reviews (0)