Wow. This was an thought-provoking, funny and very dense piece and well worth a watch.
Set in the estate of an ex-plantation in Southern USA, the play was about family relationships, secrets & lies, the stories we tell ourselves and, most of all, how much our past defines who we are. Add to this a smidge of the gothic/supernatural and, in less capable hands, the play might easily have crumbled under the weight of the subject matters. However, this piece just flew along, propelled by a well-balanced sense of humour, universally excellent performances and a wonderful design. In many ways this felt like an interesting counterpoint to Annie Baker’s excellent John at the NT a couple of years ago.
If I have one reservation about the play it was the choice & treatment of Frank’s secret past. No spoilers but, for me, the topic was just too big to be pushed into a play already bulging at the seams. And, frankly, the way that it finally came to light (through a misunderstanding straight from a bawdy comedy) felt like a tonal misstep. However, this was a minor niggle in an otherwise great play.
All in all this was very good. For me, it didn’t quite reach the inventive and exciting heights of An Octoroon, but still very highly recommended. You’ll walk out with lots to discuss.
A final comment on seating. The stage is framed by two large-ish columns on either side. The people seated in the leftmost seats in the stalls (41/42) clearly missed important bits (when actors were towards the back of the stage you could see them trying & failing to look around the column on their side).
There seems to be a lot of flames at the Donmar this season. The whole set went up in flames at the end of Europe. I was sitting in the front row and could feel the heat. And there are a lot of lit candles in Appropriate.
the idea of a unmarked slave cemetery bringing down the sale value of inherited wealth is the most hilarious example of white privilege.
Also, the thought that a KKK leader needed to have better social skills (than their father demonstrated) killed me.
There were certainly others.
I was a little disappointed with the pivot into 'Sins of the Father' territory .. And tbh, personally I'm now less interested in the insanity of US-scale racism - have things altered very much in decades? - than some newer socio-political developments in Europe. Also, I doubt too many in the audience were shaken by the revelation much of the friction in families is caused by money and 'victimhood' status.
I thought this was great. Very funny, and had some real bite and vitriol with the family dysfunction, which was good to see. Very subtle with the racism stuff I thought as well in terms of leaving it obvious but open ended.
Really enjoyed this. The racism angle was not forced but left to hang over this well written dysfunctional family drama with top notch performances
A few drawbacks. Franks big reveal was hinted at so I saw it coming, but I agree it was a bigger issue that didn’t fit in with the play. Also Ive seen the whole “character does something he thinks will heal everybody but unknowingly screws them” plot thread enough that i saw it telegraphed. It almost turned too comical as I listened to Franks long speech in the second act wanting him to get to the big kicker already. All that was missing was a “wa wa waaaa” when it came
Oh and the ending snapshots didn’t add much for me. Thought Jaimi Barbakoff and Steven Mackintosh’s moment in the last scene was an appropriate moment rather than further supernatursl stuff
Otherwise another great new play. Hope the Donmar keeps up the good work
Anyway, I can't make my mind up and will go back for a second helping.
Anything that started elsewhere but premieres here I consider new. Same for how the oliviers awards give musicals and plays like come from away the best new award
I mean you’ve got to give some leeway to some of the finest new work of the decade that we brits haven’t have the privilege of seeing until now
The only rule I personally apply is if a piece is over 10 years old when it finally arrives here, it’s not new. And 10 years is stretching it. So I am consider say Falsettos at the other palace a revival