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Robert Tanitch reviews Beth Steel’s The House of Shades at the Almeida Theatre, London

Beth Steels The House of Shadows is a three-generation family drama set in working-class Northumberland, spanning half a century from 1965 to 2019, observing the tremendous political and social changes and chronicling the failure and death of the Labor Party.

Beth Steel is the author of wonderlanda vivid and powerfully staged account of the 1984/1986 miners’ strike that earned her one evening standard Award for Most Promising Playwright.

The House of Shadows, directed by Blanche McIntyre, isn’t in the same league, but there are impressive performances from Annie-Marie Duff and Stuart McQuarrie as a married couple who hate and despise each other. She wanted to go to high school, be a middle class girl, and be a famous singer. She ends up a bitter housewife and mother, living a life she detests and misbehaving.

Her husband was a union official and a staunch supporter of the Labor Party. As he gets older, he becomes less and less Labor and more and more Tory. His hysterical daughter (Kelly Gough), who remains determined Labor, is disgusted.

McQuarrie has two fantasy scenes: one with Aneurin Bevan (Mark Meadows) as they discuss politics; the other when he is dead and talking to his living adult son (Michael Grad-Hall). The boy had been an enthusiastic communist in his youth; now, in middle age, he is a Thatcherite.

The characters’ older and younger selves sometimes share the same stage, their present and past physical and verbal struggles complementing each other. There are too many scenes and too many characters; and with some actors doubling up roles, Beth Steel’s acting can be confusing and clumsy. It would benefit from a serious cut.

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Robert Tanitch reviews Beth Steel’s The House of Shades at the Almeida Theatre, London

Source link Robert Tanitch reviews Beth Steel’s The House of Shades at the Almeida Theatre, London

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