By Cathy Crabb
Library Theatre Company, 23 April 2010
A brilliant play set in a tower block in Salford.
We follow a middle-aged couple, Bridgette (Janice Connolly) and Ronnie (John Henshaw), as they settle temporarily into their new home. Their daughter has a terminal illness and will live in their own house for the time being. Once ensconced, they make the acquaintance of a young couple, Paula (Sally Carman) and Otis (James Foster), on the floor below them.
It is a very funny play, even though it touches on death and bereavement, social aspiration and life chances, children’s parties and injured teddy bears. All serious matters, you will surely agree.
There is an unusual emphasis on a father’s love (Ronnie and Otis’s) though the Bronte allusion seems without point (their daughters are called Emily and Charlotte).
The whole cast gave strong performances, with the virtuoso piece being a near-monologue from Paula in the penultimate scene of the first act. As Paula described the myriad improvements she’d made to her flat, Bridgette could only nod and ‘Oh’ and ‘Ah’; one of those conversations where all the traffic is one way.
Dawn Allsopp’s swivelling set was also damn clever.
A tragedy clothed as a comedy, Beautiful House throbs with a vibrant Salfordian heart. It stands higher than Briar Hill Court.
Beautiful House by Cathy Crabb is showing at the Library Theatre in Manchester until 8 May 2010. Details here.