James Morton’s ambitious debut play spans three generations and explores the turbulent relationship between fathers and their sons.
Morton cleverly articulates the difficulty tough, working-class men have in expressing their emotions. Circuitous conversations, full of repetitions, interrogatory language, clipped questions and answers and awkward silences are used to demonstrate the emotional gulf between fathers and their sons.
The language is particularly compelling during the first scene, set in 1974. Ken (Mark Newsome) turns a conversation over a cup of tea into a cross-examination, badgering his son Ian (Kenny Fullwood) with questions about his actions at a party: who did he speak to? Was it a girl? What was her name? Has he forgotten her name or was he never told it?
The multi-roling between the first two scenes in Carla Kingham’s production still needs work. Bar the removal of a jumper or shirt, little is done to show how the actors have changed and who they have become. This is exacerbated by storylines being withheld for dramatic effect – some more exposition is needed for the sake of clarity.
Even if this is a deliberate decision, intended to show the cyclical nature of the fathers’ mistakes being passed down and repeated by their sons, it feels disorientating.
The characters’ repressed emotions are echoed in a sparse stage design, stripped back to a few boxes and a couple of mugs of tea. Newsome and Fullwood give thoughtful performances, with Newsome baring his teeth as the bullying father figure, though his youth proves distracting when playing the older men. The play itself, while full of promise, feels in need of further development.