The play is an exploration of family dynamics and the consequences of poor decisions, themes that are universal and timeless, which means that forty years on the relationship between the estranged brothers maintains a resonance with a modern audience.
That said, Act One is really long winded and quite boring with little in the way of plot or character development. The second Act, however, builds nicely upon the back story and cthe omplex relationship between the brothers is brought to life through a series of clever and unpredictable revelations of home truths and secrets.
It’s a typically solid Octagon Theatre production with the claustrophobic set designed by Patrick Conellan filling the performance space leaving little room for the actors to move. This is a good thing, however, as the limited space adds a sense of oppression to the building climax which Director David Thacker handles deftly.
The cast of four give competent rather than outstanding performances. In his role as Walter, the elder brother, Colin Stinton delivers a more secure performance than Tom Mannion who, as younger brother Victor, never seems to settle on a characterisation and also fluffs several lines.
Suzan Sylvester grows in strength as Victor’s wife, Esther, but this is an underwritten role with only a small amount of meat to get stuck into. Kenneth Alan Taylor is superb as Gregory Solomon, the outsider of the quartet.
Sadly, I’ve seen the Octagon Theatre do significantly better productions than this, which I found to be, overall, quite disappointing and lacklustre.
- Malcolm Wallace