There is very little that even a talented cast and director can do with Joe Graham’s slight play Dancing to the Sound of Crunching Snails.
Katie (Catherine Kinsella) and Sam (Andrew Grose) invite Katie’s sister Sara (Gemma Wardle) to celebrate Christmas in their new home. Sara brings an extra guest, Howard, (Michael Starke) the father from whom the sisters have been estranged since childhood. Over seasonal games, the family explore the things that drove them apart and examine what they have in common.
Perhaps recognising the limited potential for comedy in the script, director Joyce Branagh takes a naturalistic approach. This works well in emphasising the relationships between the characters and generating a warm atmosphere.
Katie’s defensiveness is well observed by Kinsella and she and Wardle generate a slightly peevish air that is just right for sisters under pressure. Starke is suitably awkward as the returning father. Gorse, however, is stuck with a two–dimensional character who seems to have no past or future, purely existing to add some comic moments to the play – which amuse sporadically but do not really satisfy.
Graham’s script is sadly pedestrian and utterly predictable. The elements it contains – men are large children who enjoy games – are not particularly interesting or original.
Unfortunately, considering the talent involved, Dancing to the Sound of Crunching Snails is disappointingly average.