“At the heart of this play, I hope there are warm, funny, hard-working women. Society has set them against one another and yet, through their resilience, they manage to deeply care for and protect each other.” BAFTA-nominated writer John Fitzpatrick certainly succeeds in creating hilarious female roles in his brand new play Reared debuting at Theatre503.
A play about the clashes between three different generations of Anglo-Irish women with another baby on the way, Reared explores the brimming pressure of too many people living under one roof.
All scenes take place in the family kitchen, a naturalistic and detailed set that emphasises the family’s claustrophobic domestic bubble and the shoddiness of the deteriorating home that is in a constant state of being patched up.
The beginning of the play is dominated by the debate between parents, Eileen (Shelley Atkinson) and Stuart (Daniel Crossley) about moving Stuart’s mother Nora (Paddy Glynn) into the ‘granny-flat’, which Eileen despairs of as ‘an unfinished yoke at the end of my garden’. She laments ‘I’d like something to be finished. I can’t bring a baby into a house that’s like this.’
The play is in a constant state of anticipation. The awaiting of a new baby, teenaged daughter Caitlin’s (Danielle Phillips) hope of getting into drama school, the discussion of moving Nora and her deteriorating condition due to dementia accumulate and build anxiety. As Caitlin waits for new life to begin, Nora foresees an end to hers. All characters are suspended in a state of stagnant expectancy, the tension rises and boils over, just as the kettle and soup on the hob constantly steam and bubble in the background.
It is difficult to write about this play without giving too much away. The plot is full of oscillating twists and turns that grip the audience and preserve the sharpness of the action. Miscommunications and overhearing of conversations create hilarious moments of dramatic irony as well as withholding pieces of information from the audience, keeping us on the edge of our seats.
The Irish traditions of family togetherness and the mother as the backbone of the household overshadow the play. The inability to conform to these roles in modern day London life jars the the way of living that Nora was brought up on.
John Fitzpatrick comments, “Reared had to be funny because the women I’ve grown up with in Ireland are the wittiest people I know.” The clash between three generations of women with such different ideals provides hysterical exchanges throughout the play.
All actors provide standout performances – Paddy Glynn hilariously emulates the bold Irish grandmother with no verbal filter, whilst poignantly demonstrating her battle with dementia. Shelley Atkinson and Daniel Crossley capture the tender and tearful ups and downs of married life. The younger actors of the play, Danielle Phillips and Rohan Nedd as Caitlin’s friend Colin captivate the audience with their brilliant comic timing without exaggerating and detracting from the raw feelings that underlie their complicated relationship.
- Written by John Fitzpatrick
- Directed by Sarah Davey-Hull
- Cast includes Shelley Atkinson, Daniel Crossley, Paddy Glynn, Rohan Nedd, and Danielle Phillips
- Until 28 April 2018
- Time: 7:30 pm Tues-Sat; 3:00 pm Sat