Hampstead Theatre (venue)
06 April 2022 (released)
05 April 2022
It is a huge challenge to spend over two hours in the company of an extremely dysfunctional family as they are flung together to celebrate their grumpy patriarch receiving a lifetime achievement award in medical research. With the subject matter, It requires an engrossing plot and fully engaging storytelling which is sadly missing. This family is so self obsessed that it is hard to build empathy with anyone. Drama , by its very nature should contain elements of change (journey) for its characters, here it is almost nonexistent.
There are some extremely strong performances particularly from Robert Lindsay as Professor Richard Myers hugely successful in his medical career in the development of specific aspects of IVF, but a disaster with his own children. HIs pained decline with Parkinson's is well observed. Also Alexandra Gilbreath has some wonderful changes of mood and speed of delivery as Megan Myers his younger and long suffering wife; desperately trying to hang onto her position and her inheritance.
Richard has three children, each with their own insecurities and needs from their father ,some monetary and some emotional. This inevitably has parallels with King Lear, however where Lear has a plot that build tension throughout, this is so fractured and rambling that it becomes a confusion of desires that are never fully developed and in certain cases left completely hanging.
Lizzie Clachan's compartmentalised set of boxes representing the idea of sprawling, decaying family home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan fights with the more naturalistic dialogue. Roxana Silbert's direction has eked clarity and humour where possible, but it is Alexis Zegerman's script that is falling short. Almost unforgivable is the sudden and seemingly uncharacteristic forgiveness that Roger hands down to his offspring in the final five minutes. Too little too late.
Picture credit: Ellie Kurttz