Wednesday, 16 April 2014

'A Small Family Business' National Theatre, Olivier ***

Family businesses, no matter how big or small do you pose a challenge with the dynamics, especially when corruption is incredibly prominent. Alan Ayckbourn's 1987 play, ‘A Small Family Business’ has returned on the original stage in which premiered and identifies where these problems can occur. The production should convey Ayckbourn’s comic excellence, but the revival does lack this slightly and it's a real shame as the playwright is a British theatre phenomenon. We are introduced to Jack McCracken, a vastly moral man is stunned and horrified to learn that his own relatives are all fraudsters, in terms of the furniture distribution, and his own daughter is a thief and a frequent drug user. To protect his family secret from private investigator, Benedict Hough he comes up with a strategy, even know it demoralises his own principals. However, the narrative and lines are ultimately interesting, even though the plot and pace needed refinement as it turns into a farce. A little disappointing to be honest. The play moves around a number of the families residences and it uses the same set throughout, with little changes at all. Moreover, it possesses another confusing aspect as to whose home it is. This could have been due to budgetary constraints or the director's vision. On the other hand, it does allow the quick scene changes to be more fluid. Wendy Spon and Charlotte Evans’ casting decisions are quite good, but there are too many comedians within this and loses the serious moments within the dialogue. I thought that Nigel Lindsay's portrayal of the central protagonist, Jack McCracken was of an acceptable level of precision as he encapsulates the legitimately clean and ethical individual who tries to resolve the shocking and vulgar situation that his own family has left the company in. Debra Gillett is brilliant as Jack's not so humble wife Poppy. Matthew Cottle is outstanding as the slightly slimly private investigator, Benedict Hough. I was impressed with the projection in his voice which makes him stand out amongst the rest. Nicky Wardley’s performance as Jack sister-in-law is exceptional as she provides the comic value within the entire performance. The rest of the company were of a good standard as well. Adam Penfold's direction for Alan Ayckbourn's revival was of a satisfactory nature as he appears to forget the sole meaning behind the text. The designer Tim Hadley has done a spectacular job in maintaining a family environment that is fraught in all sense of the word and Paul Hansley's production management is outstanding. It's not a lacklustre show but a performance that needs improvement.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to reading your review of A View From The Bridge
    From your fellow audience member!