Is This My Family?
Written by Clay on October 30, 2014
Last night, I was at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry to see new musical comedy ‘This is My Family’, apparently specifically titled because this is exactly what I ended up thinking to myself at numerous points throughout the show.
Whether it is the moody, monosyllabic teenage goth Matt (Terence Keeley), clumsy father Steve (Bill Champion) going through a midlife crisis or jaded mother Yvonne (Clare Burt) who is struggling to come to terms with life after motherhood, you will recognise the common family stereotypes that the play deals with while portraying them realistically through heartwarming humour and well-crafted songs.
The show is led by outgoing and cheeky schoolgirl Nicky, who takes the audience inside her everyday life at home with her family. Her brother is always shut up in his room and her mother and father have nothing to say after years of marriage. Add a troublesome grandmother whose memories are fading into the mix and the family threatens to fall apart. After winning a holiday to anywhere in the world, Nicky starts plotting a spectacular trip for her whole family, hoping to bring her loved ones close again. But, when they are faced with broken camping gear and a rain storm when she takes her reluctant family members to the place her parents first met, her plan doesn’t run as smoothly as she hoped.
As the show programme points out, ‘which of us was never embarrassed by our parents?’ The play has a universal appeal because it takes family themes of which we are all familiar and amplifies them, much like the many British comedies we have loved throughout the years, like ‘The Royle Family’ and ‘My Family’.
Yes, this has been done before yet Tim Firth (Calendar Girls, Our House) manages to lace his characters’ family dilemmas with quick and clever one-liners that make the whole thing seem new and fresh. The unique idea of portraying these quite serious issues through original songs holds the play together, and the vocals and dialogue sort of merge together after a while so that words are sung and songs spoken. These quick and witty songs are full of emotion and help express each of the characters hopes and fears. The minimalist set adds a off-the-wall feel to this family drama, consisting of an exposed house, allowing the audience to observe each family members as they go about their daily lives in various rooms. The small cast bounce off each other and give superb performances, particularly from Evelyn Hoskins who plays Nicky, as she does a fantastic job of anchoring all of the events on stage, making the audience feel as though she is taking us on a tour of her life.
Emotional and laugh-out-loud funny, this innovative comedy musical from Tim Firth is a feel-good show that will make you titter at the characters you recognise from your own family.
Catch ‘This Is My Family’ at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry running all this week until Saturday evening. If you can’t make this week, the production is currently on a U.K tour so track it down at your nearest venue! For ticket information, visit http://www.belgrade.co.uk/event/this-is-my-family