Theatre Reviews

My City 2011 (theatre)

At the outset she is resting on a park bench and her former pupil Richard (a convincing Tom Riley) stumbles on her. This prompts him to renew contact with on-off friend Julie (Siân Brooke) and soon they are part of a quintet involving Lambert and two of their other old teachers, both deeply strange. Evening Standard

Amid strong supporting perfs, Riley in particular manages to create an engaging portrait of a troubled young man who is not everything he claims to be. Variety

...as well as Ullman’s mesmerisingly enigmatic Miss Lambert there is fine support from Sorcha Cusack and the splendidly disconcerting David Troughton as two of her former colleagues, and from Tom Riley and Sian Brooke as their puzzled former pupils... The Telegraph

...Tom Riley and Sian Brooke are very good as the once-dyslexic pupils who have benefited from their old headmistress's magical qualities. The Guardian

Revisiting this residual memory, Richard and Julie – beguiling Tom Riley as the first, hilarious Sian Brooke as the second – submit to a guided tour of what is usually, for children at least, the private lives of teachers. What's On Stage

As the two younger adults, Tom Riley and Sian Brooke ably express the bewilderment and fascination their characters have with their vodka-swilling former teachers. Official London Theatre

The cast is sensational: Tracey Ullman, David Troughton and Sorcha Cusack are the teachers who make your flesh crawl, and Tom Riley and Siân Brooke the oozing-charm students. Wall Street Journal

Still, the cast is excellent, with Ullman joined by David Troughton and Sorcha Cusack as her fellow teachers, and Tom Riley and Siân Brooke both suggesting the child within the adult. Arts Desk

Arcadia 2011 (theatre)

Riley brings depth and wily humor to Septimus (a role played by Crudup in the play's 1995 Broadway debut), who steadily realizes the originality of his young student's thinking. Hollywood Reporter

Along with Crudup, the real standouts are the dashing Tom Riley as Septimus (the part Crudup played back in 1995) and the enchanting Bel Powley as his brilliant, tragically doomed pupil, who understands that, in a post-Newtonian Universe headed toward its inevitable end, “we must hurry if we are going to dance.” Vogue

...Sex, for instance, is very much in the air (and in the gazebo and in my lady's chamber) at stately Sidley Park in April 1809, when we are introduced to the dashing young tutor Septimus Hodge (heartthrob material, in Brit thesp Tom Riley's exciting Broadway debut) and his precocious student, 13-year-old Thomasina Coverly (Bel Powley, disarming but awfully shrill). Variety

Yet if this “Arcadia” lacks the uniform surface sparkle it had when I saw it (with a different cast) in London in 2009, it has acquired something more important: an emotional depth, viscerally rooted, to support its intellectual shimmer. This conviction comes across — with gusto and delicacy — via four performers who embody two almost-couples of two different eras. That would be Tom Riley and Bel Powley, portraying an early-19th-century tutor and his aristocratic pupil, and Lia Williams and Billy Crudup, in the late 20th century, as literary rivals and occasional collaborators. (For the record, though I said “gusto and delicacy,” the delicate part really applies only to Mr. Riley and Ms. Williams.)...

...And Mr. Riley (like Ms. Williams and Ms. Powley, from the British stage) is superb as the bright young man who is not Lord Byron (nor was he meant to be) but who recognizes — and bows before — real genius. Although many truly witty, intellectually detailed considerations of languages and landscapes and thermodynamics are developed, they wouldn’t be much more than parlor games without the sensual, mutually appreciative energy that these performers exchange. In this “Arcadia” “wanting to know” gloriously becomes a full-blown, red-blooded appetite. New York Times

But this interpretation makes it gloriously clear that Mr. Stoppard’s 1993 tale of two centuries is propelled by genuine, panting passion. Tom Riley, Lia Williams and Billy Crudup generate plenty of heat from their characters’ pursuit of knowledge (carnal and metaphysical) New York Times

Meanwhile, in the nineteenth century, Tom Riley is gripping in the role of Septimus Hodge, the learned tutor who finds himself not only mentoring Thomasina Coverly (the appropriately shrill Bel Powley) but also, at the same time, enrapt by her progress as a pupil. Exeunt Magazine

The performances are all splendid, but a few actors are especially striking, among them Tom Riley and Bel Powley, both U.K.-based troupers making their Broadway debuts. Riley's briskly intelligent Septimus is as endearing as he is charismatic, particularly as his student grows older and his feelings for her evolve. USA Today

Here we have some of his best. The entire show is set in a stately home. In 1809, we enjoy the shenanigans of Septimus (an excellent Tom Riley). He's the tutor of the astonishingly brilliant Thomasina (the also..oh, they're almost all very good, in this case, it's Bel Powley). But Septimus is also wooing Lady Croom (Margaret Colin) while diddling with the unseen wife of the hapless poet Ezra Chater (David Turner)... ...Williams as his foil Hannah is his equal and a real find to those of us in America not familiar with her work. So is Riley and Powley... Huffington Post

The acting could hardly be better. (While I'm loathe to make direct comparisons, personally I preferred this cast to the original production's.) Riley could have come right out of a Jane Austen novel; he's witty, dashing, and completely crushable (a very important plot point)...  ...But even with an over-the-top Crudup, it's still a pretty fantastic evening. EW.com

...Crudup’s attention-grabbing persona is at the opposite pole from Esparza’s emphatically civilising presence. The other actors – Tom Riley’s very fine 1809 tutor, Septimus Hodge, and Lia Williams’s sturdy Hannah among them – oscillate between these extremes. Financial Times

But the pleasure of this play is not just in its ideas; it's in its boisterous humor and rich characters too. Mr. Stoppard has created a group of charming kooks, eccentrics both Victorian and modern, and Mr. Leveaux has assembled a generally excellent cast for it... ...In 1809, Tom Riley is thoroughly engaging as the intelligent and ironic tutor Septimus. New York Observer

An equally superb Tom Riley is her tutor, Septimus, who is quite the lothario, making love to not only the poet Ezra Chater’s (David Turner) wife but also the lady of the house, Lady Groom (Margaret Colin). North Jersey.com

And as Arcadia is that rare mix of think piece and hilariously funny entertainment, so the Broadway cast smoothly integrates British and American actors (all, as already mentioned new to this production... ...Tom Riley, plays Crudup's original role, with impressive nuance and charisma. Curtain Up

In his Broadway debut, Riley makes an immediately disarming case for Septimus, a man who is academically as well as amorously disposed. Theatre Scene

The cast is simply superb. We expect fine performances from veterans Crudup and Margaret Colin, who plays the somewhat randy lady of the house in the Georgian era. I’ve been unfamiliar with Tom Riley, an impressive actor from the British stage, here making his Broadway debut; I am now looking forward to seeing him work again. Woman Around Town

Tom Riley is a dashing and unflappable Septimus, equal parts withering wit and full-blooded sensuality while possessing an honest and open heart. He also shares great chemistry with Bel Powley, who is Thomasina. Backstage

The main standouts to me were Tom Riley (Septimus Hodge) who gave such a great performance the entire 2 hours and 45 minutes...923now.radio.com

The cast is almost uniformly excellent. Septimus and Thomasina are played by a pair of Brits, Tom Riley and Bel Powley. Virtually unknown on these shores, their presence here is well worth all the behind-the-scenes wrangling to secure their visas. The relationship between their characters changes immeasurably from the first scene to the last, and these two young actors make every moment between them believable. Riley has an especially difficult role, as there’s very little dialogue to convey his astonishment that his pupil just might be a genius. His sidelong glances tell us all we need to know. Capital New York

The play’s direction is superb, the sets and costumes are first-rate, and several of the performances are truly outstanding. Both Tom Riley as Septimus Hodge and Billy Crudup as Bernard Nightingale, in particular, deserve to be singled out for their remarkable performances. Theatre Is Easy

Suave, playboy Septimus is more sympathetic certainly than modern day Bernard–the play cuts back and forth between 1809 and the present on the same British estate. In the new version, Septimus is played by Brit actor Tom Riley, 29, a new sensation if he plays his cards right in New York. (He’s a star in the UK and soon to be here.) Showbiz 411

On the plus side, Williams brings believability and ample humor to her role, and Riley is perfection. He provides a calm and steady-beating heart, while at the same time hinting at the heat burning below Septimus' cool surface. NY Daily News

Enhancing the play's power -- in addition to Gregory Gale's costumes that easily evoke disparate eras and Donald Holder's careful lighting -- are the seemingly effortless turns from Riley, Williams, Esparza, Gummer, Robbins (who also doubles as the 19th-century Augustus Coverley), Byron Jennings (as a crusading landscape architect) and Glenn Fleshler (as a conniving early 19th-century scion). Theatre Mania

As Septimus, Tom Riley is youthfully appealing. Bloomberg

Daughter Thomasina (a charmingly piquant Bel Powley) is a bright and eager 13-year-old being instructed by a handsome, learned young tutor, Septimus Hodge (the excellent Tom Riley). North Jersey.com

To me, Thomasina Coverly and Septimus Hodge are the emotional center of the play—only Stoppard could conceive of a powerful affection based primarily on the love of ideas—and Bel Powley and Tom Riley convey this delicate construct beautifully. Culture

The entire cast is beyond first rate. Margaret Colin (Lady Croon) provides just the right touch of wit and ignorance that befits her station; Bel Powley has a grasp of her craft that belies her age; as her tutor, Septimus Hodge, Tom Riley is elegant, clever and vulnerable...New York Theatre Guide

Yet we get the wonderfully talented Tom Riley, Raul Espraza, Margret Colin and Billy Crudup. In the original version of “Arcadia,” the charismatic Crudup played, Septimus Hodge, now richly done by Tom Riley...Times Square Chronicles

Those who are on stage must make a considerable impact to come out of the shadows of action and words...lots of words. Tom Riley as Septimus Hodge is one of those impact performers. Impressively, making his Broadway debut, the charismatic Tom Riley is artistically impeccable. In fact, you could call him quite Bryonic. Crudup and Riley, separated in story by centuries, are two sides of the same coin. You couldn't help but wonder - what was Crudup like as Septimus (I wasn't lucky enough to see that production) and wouldn't Riley be wonderful as Nightingale? Physically alike, the two actors realize Stoppard's theories on the connections between past and present even more than seemingly possible. Riley's timing and nuance is made even more apparent in dialogue with his young charge Thomasina. Blog Critics

Almost all the key characters are brilliant and this particular production, directed by David Lebeaux, clips along at a satisfying pace. I didn't want it to end – although the end is gorgeous. Standing ovation? It was like I was being lifted out of my seat by supernatural forces… and I wasn't alone... ...As for the actors – not having seen the last Broadway mounting of the play – I found them extraordinary – a casting coup for the ages, from Tom Riley's Septimus Hodge to Billy Crudup's Bernard Nightingale and Raul Esparza's Valentine Coverly to young Noah Robbins' Gus/Augustus Coverly. Promenade Magazine

Famous for its intellectual rigor, Stoppard’s play unfolds in the same room centuries apart, as tutor Septimus (happy discovery Tom Riley) finds himself embroiled in domestic disputes exacerbated by his friend Lord Byron, while trying to tutor the irascible, brilliant Thomasina (Bel Powley) in 1809. New York Press

Tom Riley brings an easy charm to Septimus Hodge, the zesty tutor who comes to the Sidley Park estate in the early 19th century to teach the young Thomasina Coverly. Septimus's interest in her gently becomes obsession, his delight at her love of learning gradually transforming into a deep appreciation of how she loves and approaches everything (including him). Riley's sleek smoothness in dealing with the girl, as Septimus alternately fails and succeeds to maintain a discreet distance from her, creates a heady flash point for the story of how Septimus and Thomasina accidentally influenced 200 years of thought and speculation. Talkin' Broadway

Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" is dense with riffs on Newton, Fermat, determinism, free will -- and gardens. It's also funny, bracing, romantic and unpredictable... ...Much of the evening's success rests on the splendid shoulders of Lia Williams as the thoughtful, playful Hannah and Tom Riley as the sexually charged Septimus. The Hour

Hurts Given and Received 2010 (theatre)

For the poet Mr Bach, the antihero of Howard Barker's latest play, cruelty and death are as necessary as the pen and ink he employs in his pursuit of great poetry. Actor Tom Riley imbues Bach with such charisma, and his victims are so willing, that it's impossible to condemn his excesses -- although it's obvious that his "poem" isn't even a figment of his own imagination, let alone anyone else's. kultureflash.net

Luckily it is held together by a sterling performance from Tom Riley as Bach, the selfish poet whose genius defies not only polite social niceties but more horrifyingly, tangible legal consequences as well. He is a bundle of frustrated energy, a childlike demon that torments and is tormented in equal measure. The Public Reviews

A lot of the things that the characters say to each other are quite funny or witty, and Tom Riley in particular has a hell of a way of making the part of Bach seem like Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet crossed with David Tennant’s Hamlet and his Katurian from The Pillowman all being played at once by Tom Hollander. As such, Riley does a phenomenal job of making the script sound like great, hugely, actable literature...Postcards from the Gods

Tom Riley is wonderful as Bach, unpleasant, but with a feral vulnerability, shaking as the women he victimises send him reeling with a flick of their skirts. And when he finally writes one, perfect page, there is the suggestion that maybe his actions were justified. Time Out

Tom Riley's dynamic Bach in the first part of the play is in constant movement, whether it is climbing to the hugely oversized chair and desk where he writes, pacing along the decking that defines the acting area, or running his hands frenetically through his hair. This kinetic performance becomes even more startling when in the latter part of the play Bach is paralysed, the stillness even more effective than his earlier frantic searching for words... ...Such a bravura performance could have overshadowed the rest of the cast, but Issy Brazier-James makes compelling characters of Sadovee and her sister, with the ensemble providing fine support... What's On Stage

...Barker is not after naturalism but he understands how to write to be spoken and sound real and here has an accomplished cast, led by Tom Riley as Bach, to deliver his verse as though the words were their own. As his poet ruthlessly abandons or destroys his friends and lovers, one can't help thinking of poets such as Hughes and Plath, of the excesses of the Byrons, Baudelaire and Beats, but this is not just about those sacrificed for the work but the sacrifice of the poet him- or herself. The British Theatre Guide

The Vertical Hour 2008 (theatre)

The evening's most interesting performance, unexpectedly, comes from Tom Riley, who imbues with pathos and humor Philip's attempts to mediate between the two most important people in his life. But fundamental questions of plausibility weaken his character: if he's so convinced his father is a serial-womanizing liar, why does he bring his beautiful, ambitious girlfriend halfway around the world to meet him? (Because otherwise there would be no play, of course). Variety

Tom Riley also articulates the son's Oedipal hang-ups in a production which, played on a bare stage, offers a thrilling contest of wills between two perfectly-matched opponents. Guardian

Tom Riley's fine Philip betrays the right, furious vulnerability. This Is London

Jeremy Herrin’s laudably clear and uncluttered direction enables the cast to deliver Hare’s thought-provoking dialogue with maximum focus....And Tom Riley shows how Philip’s long-standing antagonism towards his father threatens to undermine his carefully constructed new life. MusicOMH

The Entertainer 2006 (theatre)

When Tom Riley, impressively grief-struck as Archie's second son, brings news of catastrophe, the entertainer bursts into song - the single stroke of contrivance in a historic play that bottles the sour essence of Fifties Britain. Evening Standard

The Woman Before 2005 (theatre)

As the plot develops, Andi, who has just bade a final farewell to his spunky girlfriend Tina, also gets drawn in. The wide-eyed Georgia Taylor (like Riley making a successful stage debut) in the latter role is both chorus and comic storyteller. The British Theatre Guide

Richard Wilson directs with exemplary, understated assurance, his strong cast bolstered by a promising professional debut from Tom Riley as Andi. The Telegraph

She is now testing that promise, even though he barely remembers her, demanding that he leave Claudia and their teenage son, Andi (Tom Riley in an appealing professional debut), and start afresh with her. The Times