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Posts Tagged ‘Jude Willoughby’

This is very different to The Kitchen Sink, the last play at the Bush. It also has a kitchen sink – well, a whole kitchen – but that’s about where the similarities end. Whereas the previous ‘blue collar’ play was warm funny and feelgood this slice of middle class life is colder but just as thought-provoking and a little bit scary.

Hazel hasn’t really worked out what parenting means but is now heavily pregnant with her second child. She’s quit her job as a hot-shot lawyer and has misguidedly set up a lifestyle business at home importing olive oil from Sicily. Husband Richard is a successful plastic surgeon whose mercy missions to the third world at first seem altruistic but ultimately prove to be somewhat more self-serving. Son Daniel is a little troubled, and in trouble for his inappropriate attentions to a fellow pupil. Young Annie turns up from Sligo, employed by Richard to help Hazel with childcare (though he didn’t tell her) and their lives turn upside down. We eventually realise that Annie has ‘chosen’ Richard, as he becomes besotted with her. Hazel is betrayed and Daniel is caught in the middle.

Kate Fleetwood is simply terrific as Hazel. It’s a difficult emotional ride from former ice maiden through yummy mummy to woman scorned to epiphany when she ‘gets’ parenthood, but she does it brilliantly. Though pompous and vain Richard comes dangerously close to caricature, it’s a tribute to Mark Bazeley that in the second act much of the audience looked like they were about to march on the stage and give him a slap! Denise Gough’s brings out Annie’s complexity as she moves from naive young Irish girl to somewhat spooky predator. I think it was Jude Willoughby playing Daniel on the night I went and he was outstanding.

It takes a while before you uncover the depths in Nancy Harris’ play, and in the second act the twists and dark humour are occasionally overplayed, but ultimately I found it very satisfying and I’ve been reflecting on the awesome challenge of modern parenting ever since. I didn’t leave the theatre with the warm glow I had after The Kitchen Sink, but I did leave feeling stimulated and entertained in equal measure.

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