My Brother’s Keeper by Nigel Williams. The Playground Theatre, Latimer Road, London W10. 4**** William Russell

By Nigel Williams
The Playground Theatre, Latimer Road, London W10 6RQ to 23 March 2019.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 1hr 15 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8960 0110.

Review: William Russell 12 March.
A family at war
This compelling revival of Nigel Williams 1985 play has withstood the passage of time remarkably well. It is set in a makeshift hospital ward – then, as now, the NHS was in crisis. It holds two stroke victims, Mr Stone, a 75 year-old actor who has quite simply given up the will to live and is refusing to eat, and a comatose man called Mr Pittorini.
Stone is refusing his wife’s attempts to make him eat and she is insisting she must leave and get something herself. He could not care less. Then Tony, one of their sons arrives unexpectedly and mother changes her mind. Rapidly one realises this is not a happy family. The mother wants to stay. They have not met for several years but he has responded to the news of his father’s condition. When his older brother Sam, a totally different man, a suited businessman, turns up the brothers embark on a no holds barred battle of words. Their relationship has been fractured by events in the past, as it has with their parents. Both men love their father in their own way. What Tony has to say to his mother is devastating. He seems intent on causing hurt regardless in some sort of attempt to purge his own demons.
It makes stimulating, challenging theatre, has been directed with tact by Craig Gilbert, and the performances are very good indeed. Andy de la Tour copes beautifully with the dying man, someone who once gave the world his Lear, and now, as his faculties fade, the words that once came so easily are slipping away, only wants to die; David Partridge as Sam and Josh Taylor as Tony battle thrillingly as they recall all those past offences and wounds; and Kathryn Pogson is very touching as someone trapped in a marriage which has lasted 47 years with a family that has collapsed in disarray. As Terry, the caring, appalled at what is happening, nurse – eventually he bursts out in anger – William Reay creates a man under stress, overworked and underappreciated, who finds this family warfare intolerable.

Mr Stone: Andy de ka Tour.
Sam Stone: David Partridge.
Tony Stone: Josh Taylor.
Mrs Stone: Kathryn Pogson.
Terry: William Reay.
Mr Pittorini: Richard James Lawler.

Director: Craig Gilbert.
Sound Designer: Benjamin Grant.
Lighting Designer: Chris Withers.
Set Designer: Maddie Whiffin.
Production Photographs: Bertie Beor Roberts.

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