Thursday, 24 April 2014

'Other Desert Cities' The Old Vic ****

Families are very difficult things to come by, and the Wyeth family is one of those types, as well as the in the round transformation of The Old Vic was particularly astonishing. ‘Other Desert Cities’, written by the creator of former American television drama ‘Brothers and Sisters’, John Robin Baitz suggests the troublesome circumstances that can occur within a secretive one. The play originally performed on Broadway a couple of years ago opens with former actor, now politician Lyman Wyeth and his arrogant and somewhat emotionless wife Polly on Christmas Eve, Palm Springs, along with their two adult children Brooke a novelist, and Trip, a television producer are always arguing with one another. The conflict in this instance is when Brooke has written a novel that clearly conveys Polly and Lyman's eldest son's suicide and the reasons behind this. The parents are stunned and dismayed by the novel’s concept and pleads with their daughter to not publish the book until they pass away. However, Brooke disagrees but there is a huge secret that their parents are hiding. Robin-Baitz’s narrative is vastly compelling; unfortunately the first act was not as appealing as the second act was. I found that Polly’s sister Silda Grauman, a recovering alcoholic suggests the slight sibling rivalry that can arise, which is a realistic account to the conflicts that can occur in actual life. The writing of families seems a regular female Robin Baitz's work and one that's incredibly moving especially the mother daughter relationship of Polly and Brooke as to which their love for one another feels quite awkward in an array of scenes. I thought that the characterisation and performances by the company were wonderful and encapsulated the playwright’s dialogue with heart and ease. Sinead Cusack is outstanding as the unresponsive mother/wife Polly who become extremely distant with Brooke’s decision to publish a book that could decrease her position in society. Martha Pimpton is sublime as the daughter, Brooke, who is trying to improve her mental stability after a stint in rehab. Peter Egan is wonderful as the father Lyman, in particular his somewhat approval to his children's life choices. Daniel Lapain is excellent as the unknowing son/brother trip and Claire Higgins is brilliant as Polly’s down on her luck sister Silda. The direction by Lindsay Posner was gracious throughout as the challenge of directing and in the round performance has been achieved amicably well and interrogates the family environment with brilliance. Moreover, his collaboration with designer Robert Innes Hopkins was superb as the Palm Springs home as being constructed with tenacity. Overall I thought that ‘Other Desert Cities’ was a good production overall and one you should see before it closes.

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