There is always a gamble with a strap line of “Argentinian Absurdist Comedy” as to what exactly to expect.
However, with deep trust in the continual excellence of programming in the Ustinov, it is unsurprisingly that the revelation is quite astonishing.
A brilliant piece of theatre with a sublime cast and a script that reels happily between laughter and deep despair; all timed to perfection under the superb direction of Laurence Boswell.
The original script rooted in the deeply felt recession of Argentina in 2005 allows us into the Coleman family who are living under one roof in poverty in Dublin.
The relationships take time to establish. There is single mother Mary with three adult children of different fathers whilst a fourth lives elsewhere in very different circumstances.
The family spend their time arguing, fighting, searching for money to barely survive but the glue keeping them safe is their grandmother.
Rowan Polonski is stunning as Marko; an adult who has not changed for years and clearly has significant emotional needs. Polonski holds the stage with great power. His views on life dismissed yet somehow he sees far more than those arguing around them.
Evanna Lynch (Gaby), works and sews to earn vital money to keep the family afloat; organising the washing and laundry; more of a mother figure to the others whilst Laoisha O’Callaghan (Mary) is a mother who is far more of a child without control or respect.
The cast are outstanding, the chemistry is electric. Whilst the stage fighting and physicality of the piece only enhances the claustrophobic home as well the emotional and financial brutality of poverty.
David Crowley (Damian) reflects the unjust nature of paternal selection whilst Natalie Radmall-Quirke (Veronica) is the affluent “lucky” sibling to have had the “better” upbringing. The resulting tension of this is never far from the surface.
Anne Kent (Annie) observes and loves from her place on the sofa. Ensuring they are safe and secure, their vulnerability seeming even more critical once she is in hospital.
It is bleak, the arguments cut deep and the poverty is real and biting. However, the script lifts this into comedy at the most surprising moments creating spaces of deep emotions.
This production, whilst challenging, is in expert hands both technically and artistically. It appears faultless and the Ustinov triumphs again.
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Reviewer: Petra Schofield
The Omission of the Family Coleman, written by Claudio Tolcachir, in a new version by Stella Feehily and directed by Laurence Boswell, is showing at the Ustinov Studio in Bath until Saturday 27th April 2019.
For more information, and tickets, visit the Theatre Royal website.