Their family unit has collapsed after the death of Spencer's wife (Irene's mother). Left to fend for themselves, a world of bitterness, regret and anger rushes to the surface. Moore explores themes of isolation, identity (genetics verses environment), memory and parental culpability. He looks at the difficulty of reconciling the idealistic parental view you have as a child with the clearer perspective of an adult. In short, he asks, when do we stop blaming our parents?
Irene hasn't stopped, she cites Spencer as the root of her emotional problems, and she wants him to accompany her in some intensive therapy. When he laughs at this, she decides to sue him for “emotional battery”. But all she really seems to want is to be taken seriously.
In Laura Hopkins' slick design with its revolving sections, the use of perspex panels - that reflect the light and catch the audience's reflection as they turn - places us firmly in the jury box.
It's impossible not to warm to Jonathan Pryce's Spencer, who has hidden depths of grief and regret betrayed only occasionally by a tremor in his velvety voice. Fiona Montgomery's Irene feels rather like a petulant teenager, but her sensitive portrayal allows the audience to empathise with what could be a two-dimensional character.
Under Richard Seyd's steady direction it’s a watertight piece that fits effortlessly into Soho Theatre’s black box. The play moves from one poignant moment to the next without wavering, and Seyd deftly brings out the best in Moore’s detailed analysis.
Despite being set in San Francisco, the topic can't fail to have universal relevance. You leave the theatre compelled to question your own identity. There's something here for every father and daughter, mother and son.
- Hannah Khalil