WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE? Donmar Warehouse RUNTIME: 165 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 16/8, opens 22/8 and runs to 5/10/19
The stage is so cluttered that at a suitably dramatic moment lead Monica Dolan turns on her heels, loses her balance, falls off the stage and ends up in an unsuspecting audience member’s lap.
- Read on for reasons including what Dolan did after winning the Best Supporting Actress Olivier
We’re in the front row of this intimate 251-seater venue for the 1st preview and UK premiere of the 3rd of 6 plays by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins which was 1st staged off Broadway in 2014.
Later plays Gloria and An Octoroon have found UK success and this is the story of the Lafayette family which gathers at their late father’s home in Arkansas to prepare his former plantation for sale.
If the title refers to taking something for one’s own use without permission, it could be argued that the now 34-year-old who graduated from Princeton in 2006 is drawing on a wealth of family drama in literature but, crucially, giving it a spin despite its all-white cast that is very now.
Dolan won the Best Supporting Actress Olivier this year and here plays foul-mouthed daughter Toni who often means well but is indiscrete and unafraid to tell it like it is. Dolan has the range to excel as both a memorable character actress but also as a compelling lead and here, despite her fall, we wouldn’t rule out a repeat of that Olivier success.
Dolan is also an accomplished writer and that may be what drew her to this clever and funny piece. The stage is initially cluttered because her father was a hoarder at the end of his life and it is what the family finds amongst the mess that motors the drama to follow.
Elsewhere, Edward Hogg is especially manic and Jack Nicholson-esque as nervy brother Frank who has a hidden secret that caused him to go missing for a decade.
Fellow brother Bo (an exasperated Steven Mackintosh) is keeping it together despite money worries and elsewhere there is a surprise pregnancy and teenagers who complicate the family get together.
When we saw the running time of this we were worried that it might be overblown but Ola Ince’s production fully justifies it and this is both riotously funny and one to ponder long after the curtain has come down.