BWW Reviews: THIS IS MY FAMILY, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, October 28 2014

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This Is My Family broke all sales records at the Sheffield Crucible last year and due to this success has been sent on the road to visit several venues across the country. Tim Firth, writer of Calendar Girls, has turned his hand to this musical comedy and having his name attached to the production is a definite draw for audiences. The show tells the story of thirteen-year-old Nicky who enters a competition to win a holiday and all she needs to do is describe her family. The irony is that the perfect unit she describes is not entirely true. Although they are not exactly dysfunctional, there are plenty of family traits andissues which audience members can relate to.

The set is a two dimensional house on three levels with household items lining the walls. There is lots of exposed wood and an unfinished look which again reflects the imperfections within the family home. This is disguised in the second half efficiently by drapes of a sort. Richard Kent has done an excellent job at creating this image. Director Daniel Evans uses the levels and stage space brilliantly and the character decisions he made are all impeccably worked with the actors. The lighting by David Plater is uncomplicated but sufficient for the action and very situational.

Tim Firth is responsible for the book, music and lyrics: on the surface, a very small concept but upon further study, a deep one. Audiences enjoy watching other families on stage and TV because - more often than not - it makes them feel 'normal'. Such TV programmes as Outnumbered, The Royle Family etc. are all examples of this and are a foolproof recipe for success. The lyrics are very witty and the music, although somewhat repetitive, is adequate enough to support them. The six-piece band are onstage throughout in the USR corner but are not distracting in any way.

Narrator and star of the show is Evelyn Hoskins as Nicky. She is faultless in the role and her characterisation is exemplary. Also Terence Keeley as her brother, Matt, is hilarious throughout; playing the typical teenage boy who hates the world and mumbles constantly. His vocals are also superb. With a six-strong cast, all characters are relevant to the play and have fantastic chemistry.

This Is My Family is on at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry until Saturday 1 November 2014 and tours the UK until mid-November.



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From This Author Jenny Antill