Built in 1866 as The New Star Music Hall and renamed in 1911 this is the oldest established repertory company in the country. The building was extended in the 60's to provide bar, restaurant and foyer facilities. ·Under the weight of historical debts the Playhouse went into liquidation and closed, 3rd January 1998. In 1999, The Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust was set up to take over the joint operation of the Everyman Theatre and the Playhouse. The company took over the running of the Everyman, 1st April 2000. ·The Playhouse re-opened to the public, Thursday 14th December 2000 with a production of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.
John Rutherford has built up the business like his father before him and he naturally expects to pass it on to his eldest son. However, his son has other plans. He has something to sell, an invention that will release him from his father's tyranny and a future following in those laborious footsteps. With aspirations to achieve independence, make their own futures and find love, Rutherford's children have choices to make that may jeopardise the business and the family. This Edwardian classic and powerful drama is on a par with the work of Ibsen, Gorky and Granville Barker. It enjoyed huge success in London and New York, and was hailed as 'a remarkable play'.
Northern Broadsides Theatre Company brings Rutherford & Son to the Liverpool Playhouse as renowned director Jonathan Miller and Artistic Director, Barrie Rutter join forces in this gritty performance.
An Industrial Edwardian family suffer the tyranny of their patriarchal father, driven solely through his family glass works company, ignoring the needs and happiness of his own children. As the family begin to rebel against their father, John Rutherford fears for his factory and everything he has ever worked for.
Rutter gives a great performance, bringing the manipulative character of John Rutherford to the realistic play. Tension can be felt amongst the audience as pressure and emotions are incredibly high. Nicholas Shaw presents Rutherford Jnr brilliantly as a weak new generation, unwilling and unable to adapt to what is expected of him by his powerful father.
Catherine Kinsella delivers an intense performance representing the fight Edwardian women faced for equality in a world of powerful male leaders. The lighting designer, Guy Hoare creates dark scenes, symbolising the cold and dark feelings of the characters.
Rutherford & Son feels slightly overlong, as the story builds up tension but it feels slowly developed for a modern audience. The actors at times appear to be holding back, but overall give strong performances. The audience on the night I attended often signed and gasped throughout the play as they shared the frustrations of the characters on stage but the story itself is not quite as powerful as hoped.
A good play and well delivered, but the story is not engaging enough to give audiences as cracking a night out, as they would like.
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