Saturday, August 9, 2014

Alan Ayckbourn's A SMALL FAMILY BUSINESS On Screens Tomorrow

We don't seem to get many National Theatre Live screenings -- stage performances, direct from London, filmed and shown in movie theaters -- here in central Illinois. More's the pity. A few of these shows pop up at The Art in Champaign or somewhere in Peoria, but Bloomington-Normal is usually not a site.

And, no, we're not getting Alan Ayckbourn's A Small Family Business around here, either. But that doesn't mean lucky people in Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Milwaukee shouldn't make every effort to get to a movie theater to see this sharp, dark farce about a man who slides down a slippery slope of compromise and corruption when he takes over the reins of a family furniture business.

A Small Family Business at the National Theatre
The Telegraph judged this production as a "fine revival of an ambitious play" and noted that it "delivers both laughs and chills with great panache." But it's Time Out London that sums it up best, calling this Family Business "one of [Ayckbourn's] very best, a semi-farcical family drama that serves as a quietly devastating metaphor for the ravages of Thatcherite capitalism, as decent businessman Jack finds his scruples eroded by his spectacularly venal family."

Because it's Ayckbourn, it's funny, but it has a real bite, too. The cast of 13 includes Nigel Lindsay, Debra Gillett, Niky Wardley, Matthew Cottle and Alice Sykes, with Gerard Monaco as an entire family by himself. And this production features a fabulous set design by Tim Hatley that garnered rave reviews.

A look at Tim Watley's two-story scenic design
Let's hope local movie theaters will see their way to screening more of the National Theatre Live offerings. And more local theater companies will see their way to including Ayckbourn on their schedules.

In the meantime, you can see interviews about A Small Family Business, the entire cast list, and galleries of rehearsal and production images at the National Theatre Live site for the show, as well as a list of venues.

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