THE DAUGHTER IN LAW
By D H Lawrence.
The Arcola Studio, 24 Ashwin Street, London E8 5DL to 23 June 2018.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Sat 3.30pm.
Runs 2 hr 25 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7503 1646.
Review: William Russell 30 May.
Marriage, mothers and miners on strike
Set in a Nottingham mining village on the eve of and during the 1912 miners’ strike this powerful, but wordy and something of a roller coaster of a play – there are ups, but there are downs – gets super performances from the entire cast. It has been directed to really engrossing effect in the round by Jack Gamble and much is made about the decision to use the dialect of the area – it means occasionally words are strange, but by and large one can understand all that is being said.
Mrs Gascoyne (a superbly matriarchal Veronica Roberts) has two sons tied to her apron strings – Luther (Harry Hepple), a man unable to stand up for himself, and Joe (Matthew Biddulph), a mother’s boy with a wayward streak who will never cut those strings in spite of his threats to emigrate to Australia. Luther has married Minnie (Ellie Nunn), who is better educated than he is, has been in service and has a little money of her own, which he resents. She also resents his mother’s control over her husband lamenting what is to be said for marriage if all men belong to their mothers.
Then in comes Mrs Purdy (a Tess Bell-Briggs) to drop the proverbial bombshell. Before he married Minnie her daughter had been going with Luther and is now pregnant. She wants a pay off to help her daughter and promises to keep quiet. But Minnie, who loves Luther, finds out and the marriage explodes. There is a climactic confrontation between mother and daughter in law and both Minnie and Luther are driven to extremes. The problem is that some of the speeches are long, the pacing of the action flags every now and then and the section about the strike, the blacklegs, the troops brought in, the strike pay, while fascinating, becomes for a while a diversion from the drama of family relations. It is, however, conjured up superbly in the background sound. The men are very good indeed, but the evening belongs to the women.
Mrs Purdy: Tessa Bell-Briggs.
Joe Gascoyne: Matthew Biddulph.
Luther Gascoyne: Harry Hepple.
Minnie Gascoyne: Ellie Nunn.
Mrs Gascoyne: Veronica Roberts.
Director: Jack Gamble.
Designer: Louie Whitemore.
Lighting Designer: Geoff Hense.
Sound Designer: Dinah Mullen.
Costume Supervisor: Rebecca Carpenter.
Voice & Dialect Coach: Penny Dyer
Photograph: Ellie Nunn (Minnie Gascoyne) and Harry Hepple (Luther Gascoyne) Photo by Idil Sukan