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All the Way Home
By Ayub Khan-Din
Library Theatre Company
The Lowry, 4 October 2011

Sean Gallagher as Brian.  Photo by Gerry Murray

Sean Gallagher as Brian. Photo by Gerry Murray

As Frankie, the head of a Salford household, lies dying upstairs, his assembled loved ones gather below.

We never actually get to encounter Frankie; he remains an unseen presence though a significant one.  Instead the focus is on the family members who have come to tend him in his final days.  Some have come from afar: London in the case of his brother Brian (Sean Gallagher), a famous photographer; Didsbury (an alien land, light years away) as regards Carol (Kate Anthony), his sister.  Quite a few have stayed in Salford, eking out a faint existence.

What’s most impressive about the play is how the dynamic of the family slowly emerges, revealing fault lines, unexpected sympathies, long held but still raw resentments.  There are morsels of love and lucky dips of anger hidden behind the skirting boards.

This is a realistic, finely wrought portrait of a working class family and an astute snapshot of Salford, a city in transition.  If Salford can still be considered a city, rather than a collection of principalities: it has had no centre for a long time.

A fine play, finely acted.

All the Way Home is showing at The Lowry until 15 October, further details can be found here or here.