Rutherford & Son (Tour – Liverpool)

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.

– Emma Rhodes