Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: A Very British Childhood, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Susan Mansfield.
Sarah May’s play begins with an idyllic picture of 1960s middle-class family life: mother keeping the surburban house immaculate, father home on the dot of six, little Paul and Janet looking as if they have stepped right out of a Ladybird book and speaking in grammatically perfect sentences.
But one Friday in a long, hot summer, the veneer cracks. What is father hiding? Why is mother on medication? And what secrets are lurking in the old house in the woods? When a child goes missing, it doesn’t take long for the polite, prosperous world of the Baby Boomer generation to fracture and fall apart.
Young theatre company Pelican Briefs go to a lot of trouble to create an authentic period piece through set and costumes, but it feels like the 1960s filtered through modern eyes. Few children in any decade would be so well-behaved, few people would have spoken as formally as these characters do.
While A Very British Childhood is carefully constructed and competently acted, one wonders what it has to say to us today and why it interests theatre-makers who were not born in the 1960s.
Pleasance Dome (Venue 23) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 14 August 2015
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