Running at 90 minutes without an interval, Tara Robinson’s production of That Face, packs the emotional punch needed to vindicate Polly Stenham’s heated familial play, where the children become the parents and addiction rules the roost. Robinson explores the relationships and dynamic of a broken family with visceral detail and skilfully highlights how privilege and money do not always equate happiness.
After a slightly rushed first scene, the actors settled into their stride and began to own the dialogue. Stephanie Hyam as the charismatic and tempestuous Mia is the emotional heartbeat of the play and drives the action with an open and heartfelt honesty. Georgina Leonidas gives a sassy and punchy performance as the abrasive Izzy but her lines on occasion sound too rehearsed and lack the fluidity needed for Stenham’s pacey script.
The cast work well as an ensemble, seamlessly changing the scenes, all of which are centred in and around a large bed which deftly serves as a hospital, restaurant and various bedrooms.
Rory Fleck-Byrne as the oedipal Henry, gives a slightly wooden performance, eventually reaching the emotional climax needed but without letting the audience in on the journey. Yet it is Caroline Wildi, as the destructive Martha, who, through a beautifully nuanced portrayal, shows us the darker side of addiction and the sheer desperation of losing her grip on lucidity and simultaneously, her son.
The play snowballs out of the norm and into the depths of mania; the hurt and emotional destruction vomits out of the actors in a climactic Bacchanalian finish which leaves the audience reeling. A thought-provoking and brutally honest play which asks the question, what is indeed a “normal” family in today’s world?
**** (4 stars)
Runs until 1st December 2013.