In Alexi Kaye Campbell’s 2009 play, now in a new production directed by Jamie Lloyd, the rows and recriminations come thick and fast when older son Peter (a globetrotting banker) brings his new American fiancée, Trudi, to meet his art historian mother, Kristin, on her birthday.
Although both women share a nationality, being American is not something Left Wing Kristin is proud of – a veteran campaigner and protestor, she long ago abandoned all things Stateside for a life in Europe where, as her sons are only too keen to remind her, she devoted more energy to her work and the causes she passionately believed in than to raising her two boys. Even now, they don’t merit a mention in her recently published memoir.
As Kristin (who keeps a portrait of Karl Marx in the loo) The West Wing’s Stockard oozes barely concealed contempt for everything her sons and their partners say, a disdainful insult springing far more readily to her lips than praise. Joseph Millson doubles effectively as successful Peter and as his far more damaged younger sibling, Simon, who turns up briefly, unhappily, to confront their mother late at night. And whilst Laura Carmichael’s well-meaning Trudi, a Christian, tries – too hard and to no avail – to please, Simon’s Claire (Freema Agyeman) – a soap opera actress in a designer dress – snaps. And even the well-timed one-liners delivered by Desmond Barrit’s deliciously camp Hugh, (Kristin’s protectively loyal old friend and fellow marcher from the 60’s) can’t smooth over the troubled waters of the intergenerational relationships in a well-acted play which is both sad and funny if not altogether convincing.
Whitehall, SW1A 2DY
Tube: Charing Cross
till 18th November 2017
£35.00 – £65.00 + Premium Seats