Sunday, June 16

Storm in a Teacup – Royal Court Studio

Laugh out loud comedy and quick one liners together with a generous dash of music from ‘back in the day’; brings life to Esther Wilson’s replication of a working-class scouse family. Brought together by a funeral, they start to reminisce, unpicking some old familiar wounds and dropping some major bombshells with slithers of drama seeped throughout.

The small talk and awkward silences typical of a wake don’t last long as we’re introduced to the different personalities of the O’Brien family, all of whom we can relate to.  From fondly poking fun to pure annoyance and rage, leaving room for some hurtful home truths, Wilson’s writing provides a nice balance of emotions and pace as we watch the family work through their grief. 

Produced by Free Monkey Mind, a relaxed informal, community vibe is brought to the pre-show with the strong cast of five engaging with audience members, a sentiment which is continued throughout this one act play with the breaking of the fourth wall thus bringing us in closer to share their memories, good and bad.

We’re introduced to ‘the laughing family’, the O’Brien’s, at the funeral of a family member. The chemistry and rapport between the strong cast of 5 makes the concept of them being a family believable and a joy to watch. Each character is distinct from the salt of the earth eldest sister (portrayed with great comic timing and vocals by Gillian Hardie), cheeky brother Tony (played by the funny Paul Duckworth), his sister Bev, the ‘Hyacinth Bucket’ of the family (portrayed with perfectly by Jane Hogarth), her unsympathetic, materialistic husband Clint Westward (brilliantly portrayed by Liam Tobin), and Angie’s daughter, Kathy, who in the midst, gathers the biggest storm in the teacup, (nicely delivered by Sarah Han).    

The show opens with an acapella rendition of ‘Bring Me Sunshine’, sung with heart by the company, a song adopted by popular comedy due Morecambe & Wise. This instantly transports us to a place of times gone by, a time of innocence watching family entertainment on TV. Kudos is given to Musical Director, Andy Frizell, with music enveloping and entwining through the transitions highlighting how music, in particular, reminds us of times gone by and the people who make part of our history. The acapella version of Sandie Shaw’s, ‘(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me’, is beautiful, touching, and makes the music a meaningful part of this piece rather than just its soundtrack. 

Jocelyn Meall’s set & costume design, under Wilson’s direction, allows for seamless transitions between scenes and a clear distinction between current day and flashbacks. The tableau of photographs pegged up to form a backdrop of memories and lives lived, serves as a reminder of the lifelong bonds of the siblings despite their recent estrangements.

Angie quotes, ‘Your Joy is sorrow unmasked’.  With these two opposing emotions, one truly can’t be felt without experiencing the other. Both are a part of the healing process which are so wonderfully portrayed in this delightful piece of theatre and storytelling.

Reviewer: Gill Lewis

Reviewed: 26th September 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.