Reared review at Theatre503, London – ‘funny and touching’
Eileen is stuck in the middle. Her once formidable Irish mother-in-law Nora is starting to forget things. Her teenage daughter Caitlin is pregnant. Her husband isn’t great at providing emotional support, or looking after his mum, or even fixing the dishwasher. It all falls on her.
In his first play, This Much (or an Act of Violence Towards the Institution of Marriage), John Fitzpatrick looked at marriage through the lens of two gay men debating whether or not to tie the knot. Here he turns his attention to the family unit and the complexities of inter-generational relationships: the affection between grandmother and grandchild, the emotional cost of looking after older relatives.
Fitzpatrick has created three layered female characters and given them a number of emotive speeches. Eileen describes her descent in to post-natal depression, Nora tells a blackly comic story about the potato famine. The cast sink their teeth into these. Paddy Glynn is delightfully salty as Nora, flickering between wit and lucidity, and alarm as her memory falters. Shelley Atkinson and Danielle Philips, as Eileen and Caitlin, give performances full of warmth and humour. Their closeness, as a family, shines through in the way they interact with one another, frustration tempered with affection.
But Sarah Davey-Hull’s production is less good at weaving all these elements together. The pacing is awkward too. Sometimes it ambles; sometimes it canters. It bounds over one particular emotionally-loaded plot point altogether, in a way that proves jarring. Reared has its funny moments and its touching moments too, but it sinks a bit under the weight of all the things it tries to do.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.