- August 2, 2017
The set design – a densely populated tangle of old newspapers, books and detritus – set a striking scene for CFT’s world premiere production for The House They Grew Up In, and thankfully it was inhabited by rich, rounded characters in siblings Peppy and Daniel. Samantha Spiro’s triumphantly twitchy Peppy was a vibrant combination of prim pronunciation filled with mellifluous consonants, whereas Daniel was a quieter, more graceful presence for the most part, rendered realistic and warm by Daniel Ryan.
The play started out as a puzzle, but happily prolonged the mystery with partly comic, partly tragic scenes when the reclusive siblings were visited by a young boy. It lingered on the worst aspects of humanity for a spell, but thankfully an extended coda ended proceedings on a calmer, more optimistic note. Plot then broke in in dramatic fashion, which I shan’t spoil too much of here.
At first I was concerned that the play would descend into cloying social commentary when it lingered on the worst aspects of humanity for a spell, but thankfully an extended coda ended the play on a calmer, more optimistic note. Some found the final part overlong but I enjoyed its protracted style. It was a good structural decision and a fitting end to linger with the heartbeat of the play: the engaging performances of both brother and sister.
Minerva Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Until 5 August