by David Storey
Minerva Theatre To 4 August 2001.
Runs 2 hours 55 minutes. One interval
Tickets 01243 781312 Online www.cft.org,uk
Review Timothy Ramsden 25 July
Homecoming brings on the agonies in semi-successful revival.
One of the earlier plays in the Storey series directed by Lindsay Anderson at the Royal Court, London, in the late ’60s and ’70s, In Celebration shows three middle-class sons arriving home in Yorkshire to celebrate mum and dad’s 40th wedding anniversary. Dad’s 64, a miner and won’t give up though his lungs send him into spasms of severe coughing. It’s a dour piece; any fun’s off stage, at the meal in the swankiest restaurant around, where for one evening the parents have a panoramic view of the town where they’ve worked lifelong.
There’s enough tension between the younger generation, teacher Steven (Adrian Bower), industrial relations manager Colin (John Lloyd Fillingham) and the combustible spark that ignites the suppressed furies, dropout solicitor turned failed artist Andrew (Sean Gleeson). But as day turns to night, and night becomes morning, Andrew turns his anger against mother.
The play documents a world we’ve grown out of, where neighbours drop in to stoke the fire and keep the house warm and where the secret Andrew finally lets out – in a fury possibly fuelled by feelings of childhood rejection – is that mum’s held a pistol at dad’s head ever since their shotgun marriage all those years ago.
It’s well-acted, from Fred Pearson’s cheerful father on, including Ann Penfold’s chatty neighbour and Bernard Gallagher’s cheery drinking companion. But Storey’s plays have little external action; their life’s in the years of experience embedded in each character’s words. Sean Holmes’ production doesn’t achieve this lived-in feel, where we’re looking behind the present at the accumulated years in the characters’ minds. Nearest to achieving this sense is Susan Jameson’s mother, all elegance and prissy reserve, looking down her nose at the life she’s lead and letting go emotionally only for the briefest moments.