Home life on the circle line

Rachel Lumberg as sister Sian

Rachel Lumberg as sister Sian

This is my family

Belgrade Theatre

****

‘The past is another country’ is one useful quote the programme doesn’t provide to capture the essence of this show.

Tim Firth’s new show (he gave us Calendar Girls) is told through the eyes and songs of 13-year-old Nicky (Evelyn Hoskins), fresh faced enthusiastic and wise beyond her years.

Her over-stressed mother Yvonne (Clare Burt) and enthusiastic DIY amateur father Steve (Bill Champion), have spent their 17 years of married bliss recounting the story – mythology – of how and where they met.

When Steve’s mother the hymn-singing May aka GranEvelyn Hoskins as Nicky (Marjorie Yates) is at risk of mislaying her marbles, her short-term 'holiday’ with the family looks set to last.

‘The perfect family’ is a short-story competition that Nicky wins with her honest portrayal of home-life with the Perrys. The prize is a holiday and Nicky dreams of Patagonia or the Dordogne, all-loved up sister Sian (Rachel Lumberg) dreams of Zanti, Steve wants to go to Abu Dhabi– but they can’t go because of Gran moving in, and then they can’t go because brother ‘Freak’ Matt (Terrence Keeley) has just married Rachel in a dreamy Druidic wedding in a forest and he just plain isn’t going.

Evelyn Hoskins as Nicky

So where do they go? The past, that’s where. Black Rock Island is now an adventure park on a Native American theme and it’s blowing a gale and bucketing down, the bastard orange tent has no instructions because Steve threw them away, there’s no food, no heat and Gran’s gone funny - literally. Having just camped in a Cornish hurricane, this section had me squirming in my seat!

I loved the songs, particularly the one Sian sings abut sex being a safari, and the set is fairly magical with a three-storey house that really earns its keep turning into a threatening forest for the ‘holiday’ section. The underlying theme of family is really clever, one of the songs talks about the grey areas of interlocking circles which sums up exactly what this family and so many others are about.

Each family member has their own lives and only interlock at, for example, breakfast. Told through the eyes of a 13 year old, this family has its shock therapy at Black Rock Island and learns to look properly at the other people they live with.

I loved particularly the incoherent inarticulateness of Matt learning to voice his thoughts and feelings, and how in the crisis of the holiday his parents do exactly the same thing. This is a delight. To 01-10-14

Jane Howard

28-10-14 

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