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A CurtainUp London Review
Isla Blair takes on the awful Mrs Lyons who sits at her dying husband's bedside with her own agenda, oblivious to the needs of her family: her cancer ridden husband, her alcoholic daughter and her gay son. She twitters on about the hoped for redecoration of her living room only to be met with her husband (Nick Day)'s disapproval, as he wants things to stay exactly the same. She accuses him of being grandiose when he looks forward to a future in Hell. He is the original misanthrope and the arguments about the living room extend into an illustration of dysfunction at its worst.
Their daughter Lisa (Charlotte Randle) visits and the family is projected into meltdown. "I need to call my sponsor", says this alcoholic daughter and member of AA. Her father makes allegations about when Lisa started drinking being at the point that she met her husband David. "But we met at AA, " counters Lisa. You find yourself laughing at this dark humour.
Act Two starts with Ben Lyons (Tom Ellis) being shown round a Manhattan apartment. "If you close your eyes, you can see the Chrysler Building" says rBian (Ben Aldridge), the realtor or actor manqué This act has plenty of theatrical in jokes which really please the audience. We can sense the attraction and the flirtation in the air but when Brian tries to brush Ben off by talking about his (imaginary) girlfriend, things get nasty.
The casting is clever and the British cast manage the accents. Charlotte Randle is perfect as the anxious daughter and it is a pleasure to see Tom Ellis acting on stage.
The final scene is a triumph but I cannot reveal any more of it here. Suffice to say that if you like your humour caustic, witty and blistering you will appreciate The Lyons and even if this isn't your type of humour, your own family wrangles will seem like a breeze by comparison.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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