site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Haymarket - The Daughter-in-Law

25th April to 10th May 2003.

This was the NWN review.

Emotionally wrung

The Daughter-in-Law, at The Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke, until May 10

Aggressive and gloomy would sum up this study of an Edwardian woman's painful battle to win the commitment of her husband away from the influence of his mother.

Most people have heard of Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence and the Haymarket Theatre bring one of his lesser-known works to life, possibly one of the earliest kitchen sink dramas, directed by Alasdair Ramsay.

Set in a Nottinghamshire mining community of 1911/12, the scenery was subdued browns, with sets in various kitchens, reflecting the feminine subject, in gossipy, domestic fashion.

Everyone seemed to be shouting at someone, mother-in-law Mrs Gascoigne, stereotypically played by Frances Cuka, verbally attacks daughter-in-law Minnie (Vivienne Rowdon), who in turn subjects husband Luther (Peter Hamilton Dyer), to a relentless tirade.

Vivienne Rowdon gives a particularly good, spirited and venomous performance in the title role, but the South Yorkshire accent of the entire cast was dubious. My companion, who hails from Derby, said he would not have recognised it.

The performance gelled by the second scene, thanks mainly to some excellent onstage chemistry between husband and wife.

Dashes of humour and Lawrence's vivid poetic imagery were well handled, with sweeping undercurrents of sexual tension and the oncoming period of economic depression evident.

This darkly grim, two-and-a-half hour production puts the audience through a heavily emotional wringer, akin to watching an omnibus edition of EastEnders.