(Dominic Cavendish’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 11/30.)
Jean Cocteau’s razor-sharp, still risqué anatomy of family dysfunction (1938) fully lives up to its title in this lethally amusing revival by Chris Rolls, which completes the trio of Donmar Warehouse ventures at Trafalgar Studios dedicated to nurturing young directors.
Nurturing is the last thing going on here. The grown-ups – Mum, chiefly, but Dad, too, in his own pathetic way – are in the business of childish manipulation, theatrical hysterics, grotesque biological rivalry and abject emotional cowardice.Their 22-year-old offspring, Michael, announces that he has fallen in love with a sweet-natured bookbinder three years his senior. Bad move! Volatile, stay-at-home mother Yvonne acquires the ferocity of gangrene as she reels in jealous horror. And failed inventor dad George’s creepy secret emerges: he has been seeing Michael’s young lady, too.
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