Review: Eden End, by JB Priestley, Theatre Royal Brighton, June 28 - July 2

daniel betts as charles appleby in eden end, theatre royal brighton
daniel betts as charles appleby in eden end, theatre royal brighton

This was a brilliant production of a little performed play by one of the theatrical greats and famous left wing social commentators of the 20th century.

Look out for the fantastic scene where charming but morally questionable actor Charles Appleby (played by Daniel Betts) takes young Wilfred Kirby (played by Nick Hendrix) for a night on the town.

They end up singing and dancing, as well as making a hilarious drunken return to the house, which prompted a round of applause from the audience even though it was in the middle of an act.

Priestley wrote the play in the 1930s, but set it in 1912, which allows the characters to make all sorts of hopeful predictions about technology and how things are going to get better.

Of course with hindsight we know that things are about to let a lot worse with the advent of World War I.

The play exposes the strains in relationships in the Kirby family in the northern village of Eden End, exploring themes of sibling rivalry, unrequited love, father daughter relationships, marriage and family dynamics.

Errant daughter Stella Kirby returns home after eights years of touring the world as an actress, expecting to be welcomed home by her family, but not everyone is as pleased to see the prodigal daughter as she had hoped.

The action takes place in one room of the family home which helps to ratchet up the tension between the characters.

There’s humour, simmering resentment and first rate performances from the whole cast, plus a story that lured me in immediately and an ending which made me cry.

It’s also a piece of theatre which makes you question the characters’ actions and motivations, leaving you discussing the play all the way home.

Not to be missed.