Written and Directed by Alan Ayckbourn
Review by David Bithell - A View To A Kiln / Radio Kiln
With all Alan Ayckbourn plays you know what you are getting before it starts. An intricate version of events, multiple stories in one and superb actors playing the various roles. This one certainly ticks all the boxes.
You get an amazing perspective with Ayckbourn, where last year’s helping, The Girl Next Door compared the war-torn Britain of his childhood with the era of lockdown, this his 87th play hops lightly across the last several decades to present a considerate and emotional view of shifting attitudes of all ages to the home, to work and to the role of women.
I loved how the play delivered three timeframes simultaneously in one upper to middle class families’ living room.
To separate these timeframes was an LED lighting strip around the space so we knew which era it was. Set designer, Kevin Jenkins switched from turquoise to beige to red as we move from 1952 to 1992 and 2022 eras. What stood out particularly was at the most echoing moments, a parent from one era will stand unseen alongside the daughter from another time, emotionally present and physically absent.
What stood out for me as well was the post war and post-Brexit regime, paying homage to female freedom of speech and raising the male chauvinism issue especially in Peggy and John’s characters played wonderfully by Georgia Burnell and Antony Eden.
Peggy is the dedicated 50’s housewife, managing the house whilst husband John is at work but at the same time having to bite her tongue at all his obsessions and nuances. This is perfectly portrayed during the house moving scene when Peggy has her idea of where to place things, only to be overruled by John when he comes home to work.
By 1992 we see the character Sandra Dickens played by Frances Marshall, turning to alcohol supressing her past upbringing and being encouraged of a sign of the times to forget about a career in favour of motherhood. By 2022, we see up and coming CGI graphic designer Alison played by Elizabeth Boag and her partner Jess (Tanya-Loretta Dee). Alison is keen to abandon the family home and wanting to be free to pursue her own career.
What Ayckbourn does beautifully is showing the “old fashioned” values of the 50’s to how far things have changed and progressed in 2022 by showing same sex marriage as it should be. Freedom!
I also enjoyed the characters of the removal men played by Jude Deeno and David Lomond. Non speaking parts but facial expressions of those that you just know what its like, shifting and moving things for the customer.
You will enjoy this play and one not to miss.
Family Album is at The New Vic Theatre, until 22nd October 2022.
For tickets, please contact the box office on 01782 717962 or alternatively email email@example.com.