Chalet Lines

By John Nathan, May 3, 2012
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Bush Theatre, London W12

Watching Lee Mattinson's portrait of the working-class Walker family, I wondered if the reason I would rather chew tin foil than be in their company might have something to do with my own class prejudices.

But I don't think this is a case of a prissy sensibility, though. It's more that Mattinson presents crudeness, instead of wit, as comedy.

There are two main constants in Mattinson's play - well directed by Madani Younis, his inaugural production as the Bush Theatre's artistic director.

One is that, though it straddles four decades, it is set entirely in the same Butlin's chalet in Skegness, where the Walker women go to celebrate weddings, hen nights and birthdays. The second is that each of the three family celebrations on view here reveal much more bitterness than they do love.

The one genuinely powerful section comes as a Walker daughter (Laura Elphinstone) attempts to break away from the clan, encapsulating the play's decent point about how families use cruelty to keep kin close.

But any concern you may feel over whether she will escape her relatives will be overwhelmed by your desire to do the same thing yourself. (Tel: 020 8743 5050)

    Last updated: 6:32pm, May 3 2012