Following the death of his mother, Tom has put his life on hold in order to care for his autistic brother Alex. Their sister Sally has gone off to Oxford and embarked on a successful media career, but Tom has always had to hold things together at home. Then he meets Mary and falls in love and both he and Alex start to forge lives of their own.
Ciaran McConville’s play is endearingly ambitious in its aims, asking questions about the nature of love, what it means to love someone and what happens when that love is lost, either through death or simply through the passing of years.
Sam Hazeldine gives a superb performance as Tom, a calm and dependable sort, a man accustomed to putting his own needs aside. He is ably supported by Karl Davies, as the fragile Alex, and Katherine Manners, as the open, warm-hearted Mary.
McConville’s writing contains moments of real emotional insight, which go some way to making the occasional lapses into cliché forgivable. Though Alex’s character is given a level of perceptiveness and an ability to say poetic and resonant things about love that seem a little too neat, McConville counterbalances this with a lightness of touch and an ability to invest scenes that seem familiar with new life.
As the narrative hops forward in time over a period of years, Samantha Potter’s direction keeps the pacing taut and Kerry Bradley’s striking set design - the theatre’s bench seating draped in white sheets and the back wall hung with numerous framed family photographs - gives a real sense of lives frozen in time, too weighted by the past to move forwards.