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The Ustinov season comes to an end with a thought provoking and challenging play from the genius of Florian Zeller. Following on from the extraordinary success of “The Father” he presents this deeply painful analysis of relationships between Mothers and Sons and a distant husband.


Gina Mckee (Anne) is the mother, lost in the futility of life without the routine of a child in the house. Wishing for her son to split up with his girlfriend and return home; deeply suspicious of her husband’s trips away as a front for an affair. Mckee is a graceful, beautiful mother whose sense of abandon and confusion is heartbreaking.

The deep analysis of communication avoidance, Anne’s all encompassing love for her favourite son who replenishes her soul is captured with great clarity. The play is seen through her eyes, it is both confusing and bewildering; reflecting her whirling mind tampered by medication and alcohol. The repetitive scenes and conversations models a world where only some words are heard and others ignored. Characters are brutally unkind to each other, but there is little proof that any of it is really being played out; it is an internal struggle with every option displaying a deeper turmoil.

Richard Clothier (Peter) creates a husband clearly choosing what to hear and how to behave; never truly listening and always leaving; his affair is questioned yet not proven. William Postlethwaite (Nicholas) is the son suffocating in his mother’s love and wishing to live his own life. Cara Horgan (Elodie) is the girlfriend.

The sparse white minimal design (Mark Bailey) gives little comfort amidst the inner chaos; Laurence Boswell stamps his trade mark razor sharp direction and precision firmly into the production allowing the pace to crest and fall but giving little time for a breather.

This is a bleak piece, it is brilliantly executed and reaches deep into the soul. A child flying the nest is a time of readjustment but here Zeller gives it a very different viewpoint and with his unique style creates a world of tumbling fear, love and isolation. It is a brave piece and worth every moment.

**** (4 Stars)

Petra Schofield