My Brother’s Keeper?
The Playground Theatre
Reviewed – 28th February 2019
“Splashes of dark humour feature throughout adding to the emotional roller-coaster of this insightful and complex piece”
My Brother’s Keeper? first debuted in 1985 at the Greenwich Theatre. Over three decades later, it is now inviting audiences in at The Playground Theatre. Underneath the low hanging fluorescent lights, we observe a family at its most vulnerable. They have been brought together in a hospital ward (realistically represented by Victoria Spewing’s design) and are at their Father’s bedside, dealing with the impact of his recent stroke. Brothers Sam and Tony are forced to confront their past, accept the present and find hope for the future. Can they navigate their way to reconciliation before it’s too late?
The play is a triumph from Nigel Williams whose writing stands the test of time proving to be just as relevant now, with references to feminism, politics and the continuous constraints faced by the NHS. The exploration of the characters encapsulated the turbulence of family dynamics providing the audience with a truly ‘fly on the wall’ experience. Splashes of dark humour feature throughout adding to the emotional roller-coaster of this insightful and complex piece of writing exploring love, conflict, and acceptance.
To capture such a ‘classic’ middle-class family dynamic, the casting had to be just right and it was. David Partridge and Josh Taylor were a wonderful pairing to demonstrate the strained relationship between two brothers who have very different outlooks on life; a chalk and cheese combination throughout that provided a continuous momentum. Kathryn Pogson made a very endearing Mrs Stone who despite her gentle approach showed much vigour in her battle to bring her family together. So ‘real’ were the characters on stage, that I couldn’t help but empathise with their circumstances, finding myself catching glimpses of my own life. One must, therefore, applaud Craig Gilbert’s direction as the whole piece felt seamless in its journey, subtle in its approach while still packing a punch. The combination of writing and acting is a wonderful partnership reminding us just how precious life is.
Reviewed by Lucy Bennett
Photography by Bertie Beor Roberts
My Brother’s Keeper?
The Playground Theatre until 23rd March
Previously reviewed at this venue: