Mrs Lowry & Son*** (Trafalgar Studios 2, 2 November 2013)

Posted: November 3, 2013 in Theatre

photo-92A hectoring battle-axe of a mother and a mild-mannered subservient son, the title characters of Martyn Hesford’s likeable comedy come across like figures from a Donald McGill postcard. She is bed-ridden (although possibly more from choice than because of ill-health), humiliated by the fact that her late husband’s indebtedness has forced the family to move into a working class area, thereby downgrading her social status. He works as a rent collector and devotes all his spare time to painting in the attic. She begs him to take up a useful hobby “such as darts or bowls” and, if he must paint, to focus on fruit or flowers rather than ugly industrial landscapes. Much of the humour derives from the obvious joke of the mother rubishing the son’s talent, relying on the certainty of the audience knowing the status that LS Lowry was destined to achieve, and repetition of the joke in various forms becomes rather tiresome as the play progresses. Nonetheless, Hesford has a keen ear for the language of ordinary Northerners, his dialogue delivering a steady flow of laughs. June Watson is perfect as the mother, but it is Michael Begley as Lowry who steals the show, frequently adopting a deadpan expression as he resigns himself to his mother badgering him and then turning his head to the audience to smirk and make knowing glances. Together, they are a formidable comic double act. Underpinning the comedy is a realistic depiction of a mutually dependent family relationship which is at times quite touching. It all adds up to a very enjoyable way of spending just under 90 minutes.

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