The Greville Theatre Club

A Family Affair

by Alexander Ostrovsky
adapted by Nick Dear

May/June 2011

Directed by
Rita Vango


Review by Pat Rudkins

A Family Affair,
The Barn, Little Easton
Greville Theatre Club

ALTHOUGH written in Russian in 1850, the Greville Theatre Club proved how relevant Alexander Ostrovsky's satire still is today.  The performance standard was set by Carol Parradine's captivating opening soliloquy.  Whether as middle-aged Shirley Valentine or here, young unwed daughter Lipochka, this actress is always completely convincing.

When Marcia·Baldry's beautifully realised Matchmaker was hired by Lynda Shelverton's naively-amusing mother, that seemed the plot, and fraudulent business dealings followed though.  Chris Kearney and Steve Braham made much use of eyes and bodies, as Merchant and Solicitor respectively.  Adam Thompson was on top resonantly-voiced form as chief villain and successful suitor Lazar.

Rodney Foster's exquisite portrayal of servant Tishka nearly stole the show, while Cheryl Ferris's Housekeeper hovered amusingly.  Director Rita Vango made ingenious use of the venue's interior to deliver the agitprop final scene and Judy Lee's costumes added much.

Act 2 seemed lengthier and wordier than the other three, and that owed a lot to translator Nick Dear.  His language in it was far less fruity, if you understand my meaning!


Michael Gray's Arts Blog

Posted on Saturday, June 4, 2011.


Greville Theatre Club at the Barn Little Easton

“There may be trouble ahead ...” a cheekily anachronistic Tin Pan Alley commentary punctuated Rita Vango's production of this classic Russian farce. Other theatrical touches I admired were the retreat to the gallery of most of the cast, and the monologues to the audience. The beautifully designed programme was great, too.

Nick Dear's adaptation added some ripe language to Ostrovsky's text – think Chekhov done by the cast of East Enders.

The Dickensian characters were mostly well served by the Greville actors; certainly the audience were audibly amused throughout. Were there an award for the most convincing looking Russian, it would have to go to Rodney Foster's Tishka, closely followed by Adam Thompson as Lazar, the timid clerk who reaches the top by wedding the boss's daughter and cashing in on his cunning plan to cheat his creditors.

The shameless Lipochka, who dreams of marrying a military man but is too old for the village idiot, was played for all she was worth by Carol Parradine; her grizzly old bear of a father, a martyr to piles and ulcers, was the excellent Chris Kearney. Good comedic performances too from Marcia Baldry as the Matchmaker, and Steve Braham as the dipso solicitor Sysoy.

“Be content with what you've got” is the message here, since all the swindling schemes come to nothing, and the cast reassembles for the final curtain - “Let's face the music and dance ...”