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Review: Last of the Haussmans

17:16 23 May 2014

Jonathan Massey as Nick, Mel Sessions as Judy and Ginny Porteous as Libby in Last of the Haussmans

Jonathan Massey as Nick, Mel Sessions as Judy and Ginny Porteous as Libby in Last of the Haussmans

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The aftermath of the sixties provides the background for the Maddermarket’s latest deeply comic production.

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Stephen Beresford’s The Last Of The Haussmans is set simply in the garden of a dilapidated but grand house on the south coast, and charts the reconciliation and possible destruction of a family formed in the white heat of the 1960s.

Mel Sessions is wickedly exuberant as Judy, the matriarch who was never a real mother to her two children Nick (Jonathan Massey) and Libby (Ginny Porteous). Sessions is the comic heart of the piece: wild, fun-loving, but sharp-tongued too, and demonstrates exemplary comic timing.

Massey plays the former junkie son with worrying conviction: sunken eyed, stumbling, but with a dash of good looks and a promising twinkle never too far from his eyes. Porteous takes the lynchpin role: the dutiful daughter whose nerves and almost obsessive need to look after others leaves her own life in a complicated mess. She is steely, tense, and knotted.

The cast is completed by granddaughter Summer (a sulking, scowling Felicity Parker), local doctor Peter (Neil Bain, who lends authority and a hint of duplicity) and the young swimmer/stalker Daniel, played with appropriate creepiness by Luke Hull.

While the topic - the impact of the permissiveness of the sixties on family life, the failure of the concept of revolution, and the harsh nature of capitalism - aren’t the most obvious comic targets this is an extremely enjoyable play, confidently staged and performed that wears its near three-hour runtime lightly.

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