This Is My Family, Chichester Minerva Theatre, REVIEW: ‘A great way to kick off the CFT's 2019 season’
Families are like snowflakes – uniform from afar, but increasingly unique the closer you get to them. And the success of this musical lies in how it captures this dichotomy so well.
The titular family is made up of six members, led by James Nesbitt of Cold Feet fame – each entering a new phase in their life, and each so well-defined yet simultaneously familiar that they will remind you of your own relatives.
There is the moody goth teen and his father in a full-blown midlife crisis, both struggling with how to be grown up. The wilful and optimistic daughter, who reminds her mother of what she was like before parenthood hijacked her identity; the grandmother who is losing herself to dementia and the aunt who is regaining herself after divorce.
So when Nicky – the youngest member of the clan – wins a prize for a holiday of her choosing and surprises her parents with a trip to the forest where they first met, it proves to be an adventure to remember what they have in common.
While Nesbitt was entertaining as the free-running, shake-chugging dad who cannot accept getting old, first among equals for me was Sian the aunt. Rachel Lumberg had the audience laughing out loud with her bawdy sex talk and innuendo, in an effervescent performance.
Let’s just say I won’t be seeing Wookey Hole in the same way again.
Special mention should also go to Sheila Hancock as May, who delivered the pathos of the piece with flashes of fire and humour bursting through the haze of her confused mind.
The production is at its best when finding the beauty in the mundane workings of family life – but at times I found the writing could veer from poetic to obtuse.
Thankfully these were few and far between, and judging by the standing ovation at the end, this is a great way to kick off the CFT's 2019 season.
Until June 15.