By Harold Brighouse
Royal Exchange Theatre, 13 December 2010
When Mrs. Munning’s niece Virginia (Kelly Price) comes to stay with her for a short while, she notices one or two things that Mrs. Munning (Polly Hemingway), for all her Northern wisdom, has overlooked.
For one thing, that Zack (Justin Moorhouse), far from being a hopeless ne’er-do-well, has a talent for getting on with people and making them happy; lubricating the wheels of social intercourse, it is known as in the parlance. He is nice and it is nice to be nice, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
This is, in fact, a very agreeable, personable and altogether mellifluous production of Harold Brighouse’s fine social comedy. The whole cast were terrific but I would single out in particular Polly Hemingway, for she delivered Mrs. Munning’s dour jibes towards Zack (‘Your ways would make a cat laugh’ and ‘You’re too soft to live’ are two) with great style. She made me laugh quite a lot, any roads.
There’s the odd universal truth to be found here (reflect for a moment, if you will, on: ‘You can’t make weak tea strong by adding water’) but, to all intents and purposes, this is an entertaining comedy with a big heart and a large dollop of dry Northern wit. It is splendid withal and no mistake.
Zack is at the Royal Exchange until 22 January 2011. Details here.