A genial couple and their two grown-up sons are at home talking to the cameras of a crew filming a documentary about their family. Laid-back, confident dad is a legendary TV producer, just retired but anxious to promote pushy, confident Son Number One who’s stepping into his shoes. We also meet competent, insecure homemaker mum and talented, insecure shoe designer Son Number Two.
Cordelia O’Neill’s cleverly constructed play presents what looks like a supportive family with very modern aspirations – but of course we’d have no drama with that – and so O’Neill takes us deep into the Greek inevitability of deconstructed family rivalries. By having the characters speak in segments to the cameras, there is pager-turner tension as the grudges and secrets emerge one by one.
Ed Howells, Holly Blair, Neil Andrew and Philip Scott-Wallace put in strong performances all round, convincing with their sharply observed characters. O’Neill’s direction similarly impresses, guiding the actors through this complex script where, no matter how dark things get, the protagonists remain sympathetic. The Stolen Inches is crying out to be developed into a two-acter while keeping the edgy sparseness of the present staging (and maybe a rethink on the title).