Date: 09/05/1990
Author: James Christopher

David Spencer’s award winning play, full of tense, inarticulate aggression, examines the corrosive legacy of sexual abuse as seen through the eyes of a young playwright, Danny, whose almost perverse determination to exhume his working-class family’s murky past rubs abrasively against their wishes. If the main dynamic is Danny’s quest for the root of his father Sam’s shadowy, drink- twisted guilt – namely Sam’s interference with his sister Shelagh (Sally Rogers) – it is deliberately obscured by what Danny thinks happened (the content of his play), what he has been told happened, what he remembers happening and what he
imagines to have happened.

The action shuttles between the ’70′s and the present day on Tom Conway’s
cluttered set; street lamps, dustbins and the expedient post-pub trappings of
armchair and TV evoke on the one hand council-estate familiarity and suggest on
the other the emotional and circumstantial impoverishment of the protagonists’
lives. It’s a surreal arena dominated by Henry Stamper’s ebullient Dubliner,
Sam, whose genuine, unaffected affection for Young Danny (Dominic Kinnaird) and
the older, wiser version (Sean Bean) is strongly contrasted to the harsh
intensity Danny employs to nail his father to the past to punish him almost in
order to forgive him. It’s the arrogance of a playwright and the festering hurt
of wronged youth, but crucially, the recognition on Danny’s part that he is
vulnerable to the same sin. In all, a demanding, complex work which Sue
Dunderdale directs with respect and sensitivity, exacting powerful performances
from the Soho Theatre Company.