Again – 3 Stars

Again

Again

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 9th February 2018

★★★

“The myriad viewpoints serve to confuse rather than add mystery”

 

The ‘family’ has always been ripe pickings for drama, traversing all genres from horror, mystery, animation to comedy. In fact it is almost impossible to avoid nowadays with the multitude of repeats of family oriented sitcoms on our television screens.

Actress turned writer Stephanie Jacob has taken this tried and tested formula with the intention of shaking it up by restructuring its narrative flow. Without giving much away, each scene is presented to us more than once (hence the title of the piece). It is a bit like watching an old VHS and continually hitting the rewind button, but the repeat viewing is not as you remember it.

It is a very clever device, but it doesn’t take long for it to lose its novelty value and we are left with a jumble of allegiances. Not one of the characters is quite strong enough to win our empathy and bring us onto their side, so we never really know whose story is the truth; whose memories are the real ones.

A close-knit family of four are reuniting for lunch. It is hinted at that there has been conflict and estrangement in the back-story. The only one who still lives in the family home is matriarch Louise, committedly portrayed by the ever-wonderful Natasha Little, although there are flashes of discomfort in her performance. She has invited her ex-husband, Tom, and their two children to lunch.

The star of the show is Rosie Day who plays the unreserved teenage daughter, Izzy, who bubbles with an infectious, manic energy. Izzy’s candid giddiness is the perfect foil to her inward-looking brother, Adam, played by Charles Reston with a brittleness that constantly threatens to shatter with scarring results. They are both highly strung and Day and Reston do convey well that modern dichotomy of how much ‘the parents are to blame’, particularly the father figure: Chris Larkin captures the right mix of culpability and blamelessness as Tom, veering between deserter and victim depending on which scene we’re in.

Hannah Price’s direction keeps the pace moving and we are kept on our toes throughout. It is fascinating to witness the scenarios replayed slightly differently, each time shedding a new light on the situation.

But, all in all, too many sympathies are tugging at our hearts, and too many layers of the past and present are pasted onto the narrative, for us to really care about the characters, let alone who we should be rooting for. The myriad viewpoints serve to confuse rather than add mystery, and the line between genuine causticity and comedy is often unclear. A shame as this does cloud what is undoubtedly a skilled piece of writing.

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Zute Lightfoot

 


Again

Trafalgar Studios until 3rd March

 

 

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