Thurs 20th - Sat 29th November & Tues 25th - Sat 29th November 1997
Directed by John O'Hanlon
"All the characters are first class villains, the dialogue is filthy, the entire play is an insult to the Russian Merchant Class."
What better recommendation can there be for this remarkable, "scabrous and irreverent satire" coming as it does, from the government censor's report on Ostrovsky's first full length play. Tsar Nicholas I banned the play from performance and it cost Ostrovsky his civil service post.
This comedy contains strong language.
The original play was written in 1850 and its full title is 'It's a Family Affair - We'll Settle It Ourselves'. First published in a magazine, Tsar Nicholas I banned the play from performance, because of the uproar it caused amongst the merchants. They were horrified of his depiction of the seamier side of their lives. Ostrovsky was put under police surveillance and a year later he was forced to resign his civil service post.
This new adaptation by Nick Dear was given its British premiere by Cheek by Jowl Theatre Company in 1988.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Samson Bolshov (a merchant)||Peter Corrigan|
|Agrafena (his wife)||Helena Zefferett|
|Olipiada (their daughter)||Lucia Favarin|
|Lazar Elizarich (assistant to Bolshov)||Tom Kenyon|
|Ustinya Naumovna (a matchmaker)||Ruth Prior|
|Rispololzhensky (a solicitor)||David Penrose|
|Fominshna (a housekeeper)||Ingrid Corrigan|
|Tishka (a boy)||Philip Freed|
|Stage Manager||Eve Walker|
|Lighting Operation||Simon Walton|
|Set Design||David Penrose |
|Stage Hands||Stuart Monk|
Tsar Nicholas I has a point when he banned Ostrovsky's play, A Family Affair. The characters are an odious lot. But they are lively too, as portrayed in John O'Hanlon's Bench Theatre production.
It would be hard to imagine a larger than life pair than Peter Corrigan as a merchant who loans his wealth to cheat his creditors, and Helena Zefferitt as his wife. She has a touch of Dora Bryan in her voice, Joan Sims in her manner and Patricia Routledge in her facial expressions - plus a grossness all her own. Corrigan's roaring drunk contrasts shrewdly with David Penrose's subtler dipsomaniac lawyer. Always reaching out for a vodka and with limbs looking as if they don't belong to him, he's easily the nicest of the bunch.
Young Tom Kenyon and Lucia Favarin play the nastiest, greediest pair, with promise, but both need to learn to speak their words as if for the first time rather than in a well-rehearsed speech. The play, adapted in racy style, by Nick Dear, seems over-long but has a fine theatrical ending. Until November 29.
The News, 21st November 1997