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Angel House review at The Playhouse Nottingham

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Angel House is a string of conversations between sons and their mothers and fathers, between brothers, between young people exploring their sexuality or masculinity.

The most endearing relationship is that of Desmond (Geoff Aymer), first generation Jamaican immigrant, and his contemporary, Jean (Claire Benedict). Their easy trading of insults is as comfortable as a pair of old slippers.

The play throws up an interesting dilemma, though. The predominantly young audience at Nottingham clearly loved its raw urban edge and the African Caribbean street talk from feisty black actors. But they saw it as parody a lot of the time. So at tense and pivotal moments like the holding of a knife to a victim’s throat, the aggressor only had to come out with an expletive and it got the kind of laughter accorded to comedians.

That was a pity, because it lost its dynamic as a result and was a bit deadening. The 24-hour action is played out in half-light on a set depicting the run-down and vandalised block of flats where Desmond arrived in the fifties. Scene changes are signalled by lighted signs indicating location, but these are only arenas for confrontation. There’s no-one cooking in the kitchen or playing in the playground, although the stairwell provides Chandra Ruegg as the gauche young Sophie with the best opportunities for physical expression.

Compelling performances come from Mark Monero as Frank, the renegade brother, and from Tendayi Jembere as his confused son, Adam. It’s tough and thrusting drama that appeals and alienates in equal measure.

Production Information

The Playhouse, Nottingham, February 26-March 1, then touring until April 5

Author
Roy Williams
Director
Paulette Randall
Producer
Eclipse Theatre
Cast includes
Geoff Aymer, Claire Benedict, Richard Blackwood, Tendayi Jembere, Mark Monero
Running time
2hrs 10mins
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