In Celebration Tickets
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As the din of sing along musicals continues to drown out drama in London's Theatreland, critics have - by and large - eagerly greeted the revival of Storey's kitchen-sink play.
In Celebration, by David Storey, refers back to the grimy, industrial England. Storey deals principally with a family's tense, generational clash, at a time when university education began to alienate working class kids from their parents and their roots. Three brothers - a businessman, a teacher and a lawyer turned artist - return home to the coal mining community of their childhood for their parents' 40th wedding anniversary. Each of them has been transformed, through a university education and professional success. The Shaw family are coming together to celebrate Mrs.
Shaws 60th Birthday (and 40 years of marriage incidentally). The family is unsure of itself, they do not sit altogether easily with each other, and underlying tension and alienation are evident. After all Mr. and Mrs. Shaw dont have a telephone to speak to their distant sons, and emotions are restrained by the nature of the times and culture anyway. Their sons havent lived under their roof for many a year, and a once a year visit seems the limit of their relationships. Its not long before that alienation and tension break out into open resentment and full scale arguments. One son (the showy artist) has a grievance against his mother, involving another brother who died in childhood, but this sense of grievance is not shared by his more conventional siblings, and angers them and his father. Everyone nurses secrets and resentments.
A taut, vivid story, this is one of the great social plays of the 1960s, depicting the tensions between a father and his sons who no longer share the language to talk to one another. All three, the play argues, are warped by their upbringing, principally the dislocating effect of their parents' different classes. Their miner father was forced to marry a woman from a smarter background when she became pregnant. That child died of pneumonia at the age of 7, when Steven was in the womb and the other two were young.Starring alongside Orlando is Lynda Baron as Mrs. Burnett, Gareth Farr as Colin, Paul Hilton as Andrew, Ciaran McIntyre as Reardon, Tim Healy as Mr. Shaw, and Dearbhla Molloy as Mrs. Shaw. Orlando Bloom has elected to make his debut with a role in an ensemble drama. In here, he is required to ditch his pretty persona in favor of a role as an inwardly distressed thirtysomething struggling to come to terms with his troubled family background.Dearbhla Molloy's astonishing Mrs. Shaw, the mother is really the focus. She does capture the play's complex essence. She exudes a strange, sad reserve, a sense of shuttered emotion. In the devastating last moments, her sons gone home, she bends to the waist and fights to muffle the dreadful noises of anguish wrenching their way out of her - a married life-time's grief expressed in this great acting display.
The creative team includes designs by Lez Brotherston, lighting design by Mark Henderson, music by Stephen Warbeck, and sound design by John Leonard. Anna Mackmin directs.
What makes it a fine play is Storey's use of the specifics of family life to explore a cultural malaise. The play's strongest element is the multifaceted sibling rivalry and rage that reveals itself in contrasting ways: Steven can't talk, Colin won't talk, and Andrew can't shut up. The result is a richly satisfying evening that reminds you of Storey's ability to confront unpalatable domestic truths and to portray an England in which class is still a governing determinant.