Other Productions - A Family Affair  
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Featuring Steven Pacey and Rik Mayall

A review by Louise Badsey
January 2001

I was particularly looking forward to this because not only was Mr Pacey one of the lead characters, but so was Rik Mayall who I’ve always wanted to see live after enjoying most of his TV shows.

Rik Mayall played the owner of a pub and my first thoughts when he came on stage were “gosh he’s looking a bit podgy now” - although I guess he probably was the same size when I last saw him in an episode of Bottom - it’s difficult to tell if you’re fat or thin when you are wearing underpants ten times your size and they are full of custard!
(That’s Rik Mayall for you!)

Anyway, it was great to see him playing the brother of Steven’s character - giving him a nice big hug early on in the play - wow! Well, Steven’s character, I have to say, was very Tarrant-like! He thought a lot of himself, was highly skilled in his field and was arrogant! Also he liked pushing people around, although this time, instead of Vila, it was his wife!

I think this was quite an “easy” role for Steven - he just had to do his Tarrant type stance at the front of the stage, flash his cheesy grin and declare how amazing he was! His mother in the play had obviously spoiled him rotten (as her favourite son) and his sister and brother Rik were “nothing” compared to him. He seemed to enjoy this immensely and boasted about it whenever he could, without a thought for his sister and brother.

Rik’s character and his sister were obviously quite close and were both having relationship problems. Rik’s wife had decided to leave him as he was wasn’t treating her properly, being angry all the time. She told him she’d left him over the phone on the night that they were both meant to go for a meal with the family - to celebrate his brother (Steven’s) success - being interviewed on TV and also it was the birthday of his brother’s wife that night. He was very upset and stressed and couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone about it.
In fact he did often try to tell his family how he felt, but they just didn’t listen - he had to shout very loudly just to get their attention, thus, the reason for his constant anger no doubt!

The play was basically a comedy about a family with all sorts of different problems and how they dealt with them. The characters were:

Mother, Eldest Son - Rik, Younger Son - Steven, Daughter
Wife of Steven’s character, Young Barman
Rik’s Dog (a disabled dog that sat in its basket and never moved) - bizarre!

The stage was set in Rik’s bar. The family were to meet in the bar before going out to a restaurant later that evening. There were various scenes of bickering by the daughter, boasting by Steven, his mother making out Steven to be the best person ever (well, isn’t he??!!) and jealousy and embarrassment. All typical family scenes I guess! It was all achieved in an amusing way though. The one scene was strange... the family all sat in an embarrassed silence. Then a fly entered.... buzzed about a bit and then got zapped by the fly catcher bulb.... in this scene... all the characters heads moved in unison watching the fly’s movements and then being zapped! (cue brief chuckle from the audience!)

Anyway, Steven seem to be very relaxed and confident throughout the play. As I mentioned above, it all seemed very easy for Steven... not a very challenging role. I guess not much acting was really needed - he just played a “Tarrant” as that was all the role required!
Compared to his other plays I’ve seen, this one was more enjoyable than “The Birthday Party” which was a bit dark and weird, but it was not as good as “Things We Do For Love” which was just AMAZING! He did have to work quite hard in both “The Birthday Party” and “Things We Do For Love” though so I guess this last one was just a quick and easy role to play.

Think he performs much better the more challenging the role is - so lets hope he goes for some more in depth roles - particularly where he’s the main lead character and in a “love” sort of situation!! (As much as I love the Arrogant Tarrant, I do like to see Steven in a Nice Guy type role, like in “Things”)!

The one complaint I have is the awful jacket Steven was wearing! It made his arms look so long and spindley.... he just looked sooo tall and thin! Would have been better without the plain jacket... maybe with his sleeves rolled up or something... would have been much more appropriate.

The end of the play summed up lots of moral issues/relationship problems. Rik began to realise he needed to change his ways, and control his anger to get his wife back... which she seemed willing to do and Steven realised that he ought to stop treating his wife like a doormat and let her become an individual - and to stop being so selfish and to think of others before himself occasionally. The daughter got together with the barman, the mother didn’t change much, but went back to being oblivious to any problems her other children were having... and they all lived happily ever after!

Louise

(aka Mistress Tufty!)

 

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