Just sit back and enjoy the talent
IT doesn't really matter if the play is a good one — though by all accounts it is — sit back and enjoy three of Britain's acting greats spar and parry in The Last Days Of The Haussmans.
Julie Walters, Rory Kinnear and Helen McCrory star in this caustic and comic tale of family ties, festering grudges, doomed infatuations and regrets staged by the National Theatre and broadcast live in cinemas throughout the UK today.
The play is part of a season of cultural live broadcasts with this current production being screened at Swansea's Taliesin Arts Centre and at Neath's Gwyn Hall from 7pm.
He may share his father Roy's looks, but Rory Kinnear has trod an altogether more serious path in entertainment than turning out faultless turns as Brian Epstein, Hamlet, Dennis Thatcher and in the most recent James Bond Flicks.
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He takes on the role of Nick in this new play, and he says he was impressed, on reading the script with the writer Stephen Beresford's gift for getting to the heart of complex family affairs.
"What it came down to was Stephen's adeptness with language and adeptness with emotional truth."
Julie Walters says the play's sophistication and complexity struck a chord with her too.
"I thought the script was wonderful I thought it was very funny — it reminded me of Chekov.
"I thought it was moving and touching, it worked on lots of different levels and was just the sort of thing I like."
The play sees an anarchic, feisty and ageing high society drop-out, Judy Haussman, try to stay true to the spirit of the 1960s Ashrams, while holding court in her dilapidated Art Deco house on the Devon coast.
After an operation she is joined by her wayward offspring Nick and Libby, her sharp-eyed granddaughter Summer, local doctor Peter, and Daniel, a troubled teen who makes good use of the family's crumbling swimming pool.
Together they share a few sweltering months revisiting this chaotic world of all-day drinking, infatuations, long-held resentments, free love and failure.
Stephen Beresford admits he held no punches with the script, but all is fair in love and war.
"They are savage to each other and they are very strong characters.
"They are at war all the time and I think all families on whatever level contain those ingredients, it is just that with the Haussmans it happens to be at a particularly explosive level.
"The great advantage of family plays is you can be more savage, more cruel. The things that people say to each other are unbelievably horrible and then within minutes they are in each others arms and weeping and laughing."
And there is much laughing, says Rory: "Stephen was also an actor as well so he knows what it is like to do a comedy in a room when the writer is scowling and frowning and not laughing at all, so he has been very generous at laughing at his own jokes, suggesting that it was out our interpretation that he was finding very funny rather than his own craftsmanship!"