Anyone with a family knows that much of what we do today is dictated by what the previous generations got up to many years before; it’s simple, practical history. Simon Mendes da Costa’s West End hit, here revived by Borderline is in the business of reminding us of this.
In it, we meet Louis (Steven Duffy), philandering husband to the ever dedicated Bobbie (Anita Vettesse), and currently engaged in an affair with Bella (Shonagh Price) a young office intern, which will have consequences half a century on. For the next time we see the bedroom where the shenanigans took place, son Tony (Crawford Logan) is failing to properly plan Louis’ funeral, being distracted by his rivalry with his flash younger brother Reggie (Robin Cameron). Their wives (Jannette Foggo, Bridget McCann) look on with escalating bemusement as all filial piety is thrown away and a succession of increasingly outrageous improprieties are committed in the old family home. It all boils down to long shadows cast from a past concerned with identity - religious, social and even congenital.
Brian Pettifer’s able production in front of Monika Nisbet’s straightforward bedroom set suffers somewhat from the text itself, which takes far too long to crank its exposition into farcical action. Once it gets there though, the performances take off nicely, Price and Vettesse producing strong showings in the complex negotiations of mistress and wife. There’s something of a commentary on the difficulties attendant on secular Judaism in modern society, but nothing too serious. The play finally becomes an elaborate mechanism to fulfil everyone’s desires, and amounts to an engaging, if unchallenging night of theatre.