Writer: Tim Firth
Music and Lyrics: Tim Firth
Director: Daniel Evans
Reviewer: Jamie Gaskin
Tim Firth offers us an entertaining family – which is quite different from family entertainment.
Not particularly in adult themes (although auntie Sian’s love-life is quite spicy) but in the depth of emotions shown by its members. You cannot dismiss this asOutnumberedwith music. The sadness and soul-searching go much deeper even though the comedy is only a line away.
The music is rarely concerned about special big-numbers aimed at spotlighting a particular person, rather it is like a semi-permanent pulse driving the narrative as much as heightening the emotion. The main exception to this is Sian’s saucy number likening a new lover with driving a new car.
Young teenage daughter Nicky acts as our guide as we meet the rest of her family. This is an incredibly strong and delicate performance from Evelyn Hoskins who dominates the large Playhouse while being totally believable as a 13-year-old with a penchant for making up stories to get out of homework. A delightful little sparkler in this firework season.
Indeed Firth must be pleased that his child is being brought up by such a great cast.
First we have Steve (Bill Champion) the hassled head of the household who obviously wields more authority at work than he does on the home front. Particularly in dealing with son Matt (Terence Keeley). Champion offers us a dad keen to lead but with the unmistakable air of a man who isn’t entirely sure what’s going on around him.
Mother Yvonne (Clare Burt) has a much closer focus on what needs to happen with her continual “uniform checks”. Burt skilfully gets under the surface to show her frustration at Steve’s incompetence in practical matters and his even more dismal record at no longer saying the the romantic things she wants to hear.
Unlike son Matt who spends much of the show mumbling in monosyllabic grunts that no one can hear. The part is a little cliched with shades of Harry Enfield’s Kevin but a delightful performance. Matt wins us over when he progresses from being a drop-out Druid to someone keen on romantic poetry.
Much of the sharp side that tempers the fun centres on May, Steve’s mum, who moves in when the early stages of dementia surface. This is where Firth blends in sensitive sadness with his humour. Marjorie Yates wonderfully weaving in and out of moments of clarity and fogginess. Last but no means least in Nicky’s family is Sian. Rachel Lumberg giving a lovely larger than live portrayal of the wayward blousey mid-thirties auntie most respectable parents try to keep away from their children – but fail.
Probably not a family to adopt buy one well worth joining for an evening of fun and mellow thoughtfulness.
Runs until 8thNovember and continues to tour