Three estranged siblings are forced to come together to sell their father’s flat for his care home bills. As well as the long-standing tensions between them, there’s something extra nasty under the sofa.
Paul Westwood’s play takes place in a living room filled with worn beige furniture, a soiled beige carpet and peeling beige walls. It isn’t an environment in which anyone or anything is likely to thrive. Even the Jammie Dodgers have gone off.
This sweary Birmingham-set family drama is the first full-length play by Westwood, who also plays gambling-addicted younger brother Jamie.
Pathologically aggressive eldest sibling Danny (Charlie Allen) is toxic masculinity personified and he physically and verbally dominates the proceedings. Kathryn O’Reilly’s gruff, filter-free sister Michelle, an exhausted single mum, breaks up the some of the grimness with anecdotes about her children’s misbehaviour. The pallid and twitchy Jamie, a loser in all senses, is a rather passive figure, though that’s fitting given he’s in the grip of addiction.
Some of the plotting is a little confusing and the flashback final act fees awkwardly tacked-on – but the character of dad Phillip (a nuanced David Whitworth) at least offers a glimpse of where Danny gets his aggressive tendencies from. While Jamie’s gambling addiction is the catalyst to the plays narrative, it ultimately takes a back seat to Danny’s brutishness.
The piece’s naturalism ultimately gives way to gun-slinging melodrama, but it’s a compliment to the all-consuming claustrophobia of Clemmie Reynolds’ production that it’s a relief to leave.