As well as giving more than a nod to the conventions of Restoration comedy, it also owes a considerable debt to the American television Cosby Shows – which director Dawn Walton emphasises by staging her production as though it’s a live studio recording, canned applause and all.
Evans locates his black middleclass Harrison family in the predominantly white suburbs of Philadelphia where dad Avery (Karl Collins) is a pastor, malapropping mum Myra (Jocelyn Jee Esien) has snobbish pretensions and a spendthrift way with the household income, and preppy son Felix has probably impregnated his “unsuitable” streetwise teenage girlfriend L’il Bits.
Then there’s Avery’s 20 year old recently orphaned niece from the rural South whose pigtails and denim dungarees hide a surprising canniness, and straight-talking club owner Caleb who’s been appointed her reluctant guardian.
The performances are all, deliberately, larger than life – which, after a while, can occasionally grate in a show that’s twice as long as a TV episode.
But for the most part it’s all good fun with some great one-liners, a liberal scattering of social satire, and Felix’s furtively hidden copy of Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex to add unexpected spice to the humdrum routine of his parents’ marital relations.
Tricycle, Kilburn High Road, NW6 7JR
Tube | Kilburn
Until 9th February
£14.00 – £22.00
Photo: Tristram Kenton