In David Storey’s play, which premiered at the Royal Court in 1969, Bloom plays Steven, the youngest of three brothers who return home to their Northern roots for their parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. Although they’ve returned to celebrate, the complexities of family life and long-held grievances make a decent party unlikely. Each of the brothers has been transformed, through a university education and professional success.
Steven’s brothers Andrew and Colin are played by Paul Hilton and Gareth Farr, his parents Mr and Mrs Shaw by Tim Healy and Dearbhla Molloy, and the neighbours by Lynda Baron and Ciaran McIntyre. The production is presented by Sonia Friedman Productions, Michael Edwards and Carole Winter, and Tulchin/Bartner Productions.
While some first night critics were underwhelmed by Bloom’s stage debut, it was as much due to his chosen role – as the largely silent, introverted brother – as his performance. The choice of play, viewed as something of a period piece, was also questioned and opinions as to the evening’s entertainment overall ranging from something “richly satisfying” to something “you’d only recommend … to your worse enemy”. There were good notices for Bloom’s co-stars Paul Hilton, Tim Healy and Dearbhla Molloy, although the highest praise was reserved for the show’s ever-prolific producer Sonia Friedman, hailed by one critic as “our last, serious hope of keeping straight plays alive in a West End deluged by musicals”.
- by Ryan Woods