Families, they’re a dysfunctional bunch aren’t they; the fighting, the screaming and the punch-ups over Boxing Day lunch. In Polly Stenham’s ‘That Face’ dysfunctional families are taken to a whole new level. Meet Martha (aka Mummy, the psychotic drug addict alcoholic) and her two darling children: pill pushing Mia, and social outcast Henry.
Our scene is set with hell raiser Mia slipping a thirteen year old a hefty amount of Valium, aided by her psycho best friend Izzy, convincingly played by Claire O’Shea. Mia returns home to dear old mum obsessing over her Russian soldier Henry who, being the stoical chap he is, sets about trying and failing to set everything to rights. Enter Jake Williams, as Yah Yah Daddy Hughy who is notable for his realistic portrayal of a man who literally could not give a flying crap.
‘That Face’ is pretty gritty stuff; it’s the sort of drama that can only be performed by people who can actually act and, fortunately for Theatre Group, they can. Director George Howard has chosen his cast well, the crown jewel being Lucie Turner’s portrayal of Mummy Martha which makes you want to laugh, cry and vomit all at the same time. Verity Blyth as misunderstood Mia and Iggy Jeffery’s disturbed Henry turn what could be considered to be a quirky and zany play into one of tragedy and pain.
‘That Face’ is a tricky play to pull off. With themes of incest, insanity and despair it gained momentum as it went along, starting slightly sluggishly and ending with a pretty spectacular finale with some rather dark and heavy bits in between- which is all you really want on Valentines day isn’t it?
words: Joanna Bateson-Hill