Family values at St Albans theatre
PUBLISHED: 10:44 26 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:03 06 May 2010
ON the face of it, the decision by the Company of Ten to perform Priestley s play The Linden Tree was an unusual one. Although hugely successful when it opened in Sheffield in June 1947, it then languished for nearly 60 years before being revived on the p
ON the face of it, the decision by the Company of Ten to perform Priestley's play The Linden Tree was an unusual one.
Although hugely successful when it opened in Sheffield in June 1947, it then languished for nearly 60 years before being revived on the professional stage in 2006.
It is a long and somewhat dark play which focuses on the Linden family and what happens when they come together to mark the patriarch's 65th birthday.
But what emerges most markedly from the Company of Ten production in the Abbey Theatre Studio in St Albans is that no matter how dated it appears in many respects, the human condition remains unchanged.
Maybe the son Rex's fortune of £150,000 would have made him a millionaire at today's values and the Mrs Mop character Mrs Cotton - a comic and convincing performance by Margot Jobbins - replaced by an au pair, but essentially all human life, both then and now, is there.
There is David Goldman's Professor Linden who does not want to stand down from his university lectureship even though he has reached retirement age and his long-suffering wife Isabel, played by Jane Byrne, who yearns for the day when they can leave the fictional city of Burmanley.
Their four children, Jean, Marion, Dinah and the aforementioned Rex, are more of a hindrance than a help because each has a particular reason to take the view they do.
Into the mix throw two idealistic students who come to the house for tutorials with Professor Linden and you have the horns of the dilemma.
David Goldman and Jane Byrne make an excellent partnership as the two older Lindens with the former particularly good as he soul searches about his future.
Just as notable are Richard Hammond as Rex, Chrystalla Spire as the idealistic and hard-working Jean, Jan Haniff as the spoilt professional "wife" Marion and Claudia Gainza as the loyal and cub-like Dinah.
Danielle Cohen is impressive as the uptight student Edith, a tempting target for the lascivious Rex, and Sam Norwood is a good foil as her fellow student Bernard. To Kevin Broadfoot's Alfred, falls the job of imparting the fate of Professor Linden.
The Studio is perfect for The Linden Tree as it draws the audience into the vicissitudes of Linden family life and director Alan Bobroff must be delighted with the performances of his talented cast.
The only slight reservation is that it is a long play, particularly the first half, and perhaps could have done with some judicious pruning.
The Linden Tree runs until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or online at www.abbeytheatre.org.uk