Growing up as part of a large family myself, I was intrigued to hear whether writer Siân Parry-Williams’ experiences of her own kith and kin came close to my own familial memories.
So, as 6pm neared on Wednesday evening, I logged on to my laptop and opened my online ticket in readiness to listen to The Relatives!, part of the 10th Greater Manchester Fringe.
Parry-Williams informed us she is “sure” the antics of her characters will remind us of our own relatives.
Well, to be honest, nothing during the 30-minute audio event came close to anything heard or seen in my own, Yorkshire, family. But then, Parry Williams’ characters relate to folk in her Welsh background.
However, comedy can cross all borders …
The Relatives! kicks off with a conversation, on Skype, between mother and daughter. As the mother takes her laptop into the loo with her, she chats merrily away about the operation she has had “down there”, and when she would next be able to “have relations” with her husband.
Yuk, not a conversation I ever had with my mother.
We then enter care/residential home territory, with carer Sue getting on the nerves of resident, Blodwyn – whom Sue calls “Bloddy Win”.
I must admit here, I was on the side of Bloddy – well-meaning Sue really got on my wick. But they both become firm friends after they are arrested (no spoiler, you’ll have to stream The Relatives! to find out why).
Meanwhile, the Reverend Amanda is having a hard time trying to talk to a class of schoolchildren, getting continually interrupted by an “agnosticious” pupil.
Later, Amanda’s Bishop mistakes her for a woman who is only there to make coffee and even has the cheek to call her Mandy, while a delivery man reveals to her he “has never met a woman vicar before” prompting her to storm off muttering “The Lord is my rock and my fortress ….” under her breath.
Things go from bad to worse with one man, Barry, singing to her and a soon-to-be-married by her, couple, revealing the bride-to-be is pregnant. Shock, horror!
Two women fighting over sanitary products in their local shop, and a mum, desperate to be “hip and happnin’” being heartbroken when she discovers her son, Ivan. is dating a woman, Jessica – worse still – a white woman, completes the shenanigans.
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t recognise anything of the above in my life, but then Parry-Williams would probably say the same if she heard my recollections.
I never came close to laughing out loud, but all in all, it was an enjoyable half-hour that made me concentrate aurally, instead of visually, which made for an interesting change.
The voices of all three participants – Parry-Williams, Maggie Wignall and James Reilly – clearly registered the despair, disgust, shock, bewilderment, humour and anger of their characters.
And I realised afterwards that I hadn’t missed the visuals at all. It’s amazing what the imagination can conjure up.
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 1st September 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★
Written, produced and voiced by Siân Parry-Williams with characters voiced by Maggie Wignall and James Reilly
Running online until Sunday, September 5th, 2021, 6pm (30 minutes) and 9pm (60 minutes); after streaming, the audio will be available until September 30th, 2021
Tickets cost £4, £3 conc, for more information visit https://manchester.ssboxoffice.com/events/the-relatives/