Nothing wrong with that in theory, but although Lee Mattinson’s account of four generations of women celebrating five decades of weddings and birthdays in the same Butlins chalet in Skegness sometimes hits the mark, it tries far too hard to be funny, with diminishing returns.
The initial onslaught of jokes (some of them pretty old and tired) is relentless as the preparations for Barbara’s 70th fall apart. One granddaughter (mousy, ill at ease Abigail) would obviously rather be elsewhere, and the other, Jolene, is busy falling in love (for the umpteenth time) with a Redcoat she’s only just met.
But it’s their loud-mouthed mother, Loretta, who’s really screwed things up – not just this evening by arriving too late for their reservation, but in her relationships with her daughters and her own estranged sister, Paula, who may or may not turn up for the proceedings.
Mattinson then takes us back – first to Paula’s hen night in 1996 when Loretta arrives uninvited, then way back to 1961 and Barbara’s own wedding when it becomes clear that the talent for inflicting emotional damage has been passed down the generations from Barbara’s rigid Catholic mother, Edith
Monica Dolan doubles effectively as boozy Loretta and her domineering forebear, Edith, whilst Laura Elphinstone is touching as a reluctant Abigail who has inherited nothing of her mother’s brashness.
But the family rows are heavy-handed and the characters underdeveloped in what proves to be not the most auspicious of starts to a new regime.
Bush Theatre, Uxbridge Road, W12 8LJ
Tube: Shepherds Bush
Until May 5