Kelvin Players Theatre Company deliver a highly emotional play, and with great depth of character exploring themes of estranged family relationships, morals and social pressures.
Although not as overtly political as other work by playwright David Hare this piece, first performed in 1988, has been resurrected by Kelvin Players because of the relationship between Marion, a Conservative MP, and her sister Isobel who runs a small design firm with her lover Irwin.
Fran Lewis who plays Isobel stole the show, with a very intense performance of a woman who is bound by a sense of duty to do ‘the right thing’ and this duty becomes even more unwavering when she is pushed into a corner by her sister and late father’s second wife.
The action starts shortly after Robert, Isobel and Marion’s father, has passed away. Marion and her born-again Christian husband Tom have just arrived at the family home where Isobel is waiting with the father’s body.
No mention is made of their mother, but we discover their father has remarried a much younger woman, Katherine. Something which clearly divided the two sisters. Marion, played by Fiona McClure is a fierce dominant woman, and comes across as a stereo typical self-righteous Tory.
As the family struggle to come to terms with their grief, Isobel ends up giving Katherine, an alcoholic with no apparent work experience except bar tending, a job at her small design firm to try to give her a sense of purpose. A choice which is the start of Isobels down fall.
This play is very middle class, with phrases not commonly heard these days and this creates a stereotype of the home counties and traditional conservative values, with a strong sense of Thatcherism. Juxtaposed against the current political climate, on the verge of the EU referendum, it emphasises the current divide in society and how this is impacting the personal lives of individuals.
The direction by Bob Havard is well placed, and the overall concept of the performance is uncomplicated. Allowing the complex, multi-layered writing shine.
Unfortunately, due to the powerful performances from Lewis and McClure, the other characters were slightly over shadowed. Meaning that Irwins transition from lover, to scorned ex-boyfriend is somewhat unexpected.
The Secret Rapture continues at the Kelvin Players Studio in Bristol until Saturday 23rd April 2016, get your tickets on their website.
Doubt: A Parable was also directed by Bob Havard, and performed by members of the Kelvin Players Theatre Company in November last year at the Alma Tavern, read the review here.