Star rating – 7/10
It’s the 1960’s in a working class home in Bolton – just the sort of setting that can be clichéd and/or overly romanticised. Bill Naughton’s play depicting a weekend in the life of the Crompton family is certainly eventful, and thanks to a strong cast and good direction by Gwenda Huges, does not seem clichéd at all. It is warm and insightful – exploring the themes of gender roles in the home, of the adult offspring wanting to break away from the strict rules and domineering behaviour of their father; but ultimately of the benefits of a strong and loving family.
I have to say I was very relieved when all of the ensemble cast, who are clearly at ease with each other’s performances, got the Lancashire accent almost off to a tee.Richard Elfyn and Joanna Brookes are particularly good as the parents of the piece, whose relationship and roles do seem a little dated now, but whose strong relationship is nevertheless moving in times of trouble.
There are moments are warm humour, with the cat comically entering the action at a key moment, and a once fresh herring featuring prominently in the story, as younger daughter Hilda refuses to eat it, and her father insists that her mother gives it to her at every meal until she does. It felt very true, and brought back some vivid moments from my own childhood. The neighbour who desperately needs to borrow £5 to stop her television from being repossessed is a great comic foil, but also serves as a stark warning against credit and debt in these straightened times.
It is not a classic, and yes is a bit overly romantic in part, but it is a warm, funny and poignant depiction of a normal family, trying to deal with their troubles together, despite their obvious failings.