1 April 2013

Smack Family Robinson at The Rose

Smack Family Robinson lets us in to the lives of the Robinson family who make their good living from dealing in drugs.

The head of the family is an ageing hippie who delights in wearing old rock t-shirts, e.g. Wishbone Ash. His wife is brash and crude. Their eldest son has been damaged by his parents drugs habits and spend most of the time standing behind the sofa. The younger son is mean and nasty and their daughter, the youngest child, has the brains.

The driver of the story is the consequences of the young son's hard attitude to their customers, including the drafting in of a group of Russians to help collect payment and to deal out the treatment when payment cannot be made. The continual violence gives the play a hard edge.

Softening that edge are the laid-back parents who provide a string of laughs. An example that stuck with me was when Keith Allen says that the sound of a helicopter overhead used to mean that the local kids have stolen a car and now it means that they've stolen a helicopter.

This is a proper comedy and the laughs are laid on thickly throughout. It is not, however, a farce so anybody expecting something like One Man Two Governors could be disappointed.

The play gets some local kudos by name-dropping the likes of New Malden and Surbiton. Not sure why as it adds little to the play it all sounds a little forced.

There is something of a story, though the main point of the play is the characters rather than what they do, and that has its light and dark moment too. The fact that there is not much of a story is something of a problem as there is no obvious ending and when one comes it is telegraphed a mile and does not fit well with what has gone before.

It is easy to be critical about the play's weaknesses but that does not detract too much from its strengths which are the characters and their dialogue. Keith Allen and Denise Welch deserve their star billing and are both excellent, as are the lines they are given. The rest of the cast are good too.

Smack Family Robinson is fairly predictable entertainment and the key word there is "entertainment". It's humour is solid and the touches of darkness heighten it. If it had a proper story too then it would be more fulfilling.

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