CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: Appropriate, at Donmar Warehouse

Monica Dolan, Steven Mackintosh and Edward Hogg give strong performances in absorbing tale

29 August, 2019 — By Julie Tomlin

Stephen Mackintosh in Appropriate  [Photo: Marc Brenner]

AS one of a number of Americans among the audience commented, it was a long way to come to see a play about Arkansas, but judging from their comments in the interval and afterwards, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ fraught – and frequently amusing – classic family drama didn’t disappoint.

Fly Davis’ set created a memorable opening scenario with its depiction of the fading grandeur of the Lafayette family home that three siblings – along with their partners and children – converge on following the death of their father.

Mixed up with the candelabra, the chandeliers and fine furniture in the living room are piles of hoarded clutter that includes microwaves, numerous fans and even a Mr Potato Head.

It’s amid the clearing of this clutter and readying to sell the crumbling old plantation house that older sister Toni (Monica Dolan), Bo (Steven Mackintosh) and Franz (Edward Hogg) all give strong performances as they confront one another and then tie themselves in knots trying to make sense of evidence of violent white supremacy they find among the belongings of their liberal judge father.

Orlando Roddy plays son Ainsley [Photo: Marc Brenner]

Skilfully mixing elements of the 20th-century family drama and ghost story, Ola Ince’s production is brilliantly tense and explosive, and the opening with the rising sound of cicadas, is a highlight of Donato Wharton’s impressive sound design.

All in all it’s a deeply absorbing play with an excellent cast and a sharply observed script.

Or to put it in the words of the audience member from the USA: “That sure was the quickest two and a half hours.”

UNTIL OCTOBER 5

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