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What's in a Name?

“A paper-thin farce”

For a play based around an act of provocation, there is nothing remotely challenging about Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière’s 2010 comedy What’s in a Name?

It’s a cosy farce about a tasteless joke taken too far, where a smirking estate agent ruins a dinner party by convincing the guests that he intends to name his unborn son Adolf – or more precisely, Adolphe.

Director and adapter Jeremy Sams gives it a breezy and admittedly entertaining treatment, letting the thoroughly dislikable characters preen and pontificate at length, openly mocked by their friends, oblivious to their own hypocrisy.

Joe Thomas – best known for his stints as Simon on E4’s The Inbetweeners and Kingsley in Channel 4’s Fresh Meat – confidently handles the comedy here, oozing self-congratulatory smugness as cocky prankster Vincent.

Laura Patch wrings humour out of an overfamiliar part as under-appreciated wife and mother Elizabeth. Spending much of the play in the kitchen, she fusses, placates, and apologises for the tiresome, dick-swinging men in her life – at least until she finally snaps, flipping off her combative family and storming out with a ferocious mic drop of a final speech.

Francis O’Connor’s detailed naturalistic set conveys the sense of solidity and security permeating these characters’ lives, lavishly depicting a trendy Peckham loft conversion, all exposed brickwork and built-in bookshelves. A giant family photograph dominates one wall – updated with extra faces when the new arrival appears during the show’s unnecessary coda – reminding us of the unassailable privilege of characters whose worst life experience is an especially awkward dinner.

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Production Details
Production nameWhat's in a Name?
VenueYvonne Arnaud Theatre
StartsSeptember 5, 2019
EndsSeptember 14, 2019
Running time2hrs
AuthorAlexandre De La Patellière, Matthieu Delaporte
AdaptorJeremy Sams
DirectorJeremy Sams
Set designerFrancis O’Connor
Lighting designerRick Fisher
Sound designerTom Shipman
CastAlex Gaumond, Bo Poraj, Joe Thomas, Laura Patch, Summer Strallen
Stage managerZac Holton
ProducerAdam Blanshay Productions, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Nicolas Talar
VerdictStrong comic performances hold together a paper-thin farce of egos, outrage and bourgeois manners
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Dave Fargnoli

Dave Fargnoli

Dave Fargnoli

Dave Fargnoli

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