O’Neill’s play has lost none of its power or resonance. It still feels as shocking and new today as no doubt it did in 1922. Jones’ revelatory and evocative production is not just beautiful to look at, easy to follow and enthralling – it also reminds that the questions of oppression, disparity and injustice which concerned O’Neill then are still pertinent. The world may not turn to the tune of industrialists quite so much in the 21st Century, but there is still a clear, powerful and rich elite and workers whose lives are made hideous while the rich get richer.
In this production, the creative team and cast have clarified Jonathan Larson’s message. By returning to the Broadway roots, recreating the ambiance of the bohemian Alphabet City of the Nineties, and focussing on the narrative drive of the show, Rent becomes relevant. This is an admirable revival of a modern classic.