First-time playwright Stephen Beresford brings his considerable skill and experience as an actor to bear in writing his tightly wound family drama “The Last of the Haussmans”, playing at Angelika Film Centers as part of Britain’s National Theatre Live screencasts. (ANGELIKA – DALLAS Saturday, Oct. 27 2:00PM; ANGELIKA – PLANO Sunday, Oct. 28 2:00PM, Tuesday, Oct. 30 7:00PM).
“My baby’s home! Let’s wake ’em up! The old rebels, eh? Let’s show this younger generation what it’s all about! Shall we get naked?“— Judy, in “The Last of the Haussmans”
Tightly wound — an understatement? More like a British version of Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County” on crack cocaine. If you’re a fan of Letts’ Tony and Pulitzer-winning stage epic set in Oklahoma, you’ll most likely adore this screening. Beresford weaves a fascinating web of family dysfunction that brims with ice and fire and soars with a glittering tangle of dissipation, deception, lost hope and transformation. Tawdry and debased in its broken-down-home setting, this multi-generational human drama transcends everyday squalor with lyrical elegance. Its six characters tumble through a swirling emotional vortex, giving each actor rich opportunity to explore internal nuance and layer upon layer of relationship. Each follows a challenging, expressive arc through a metaphorical rebirth of hurricane force. A surprisingly tender kiss scene in Act Two reveals a hint of Tennessee Williams-like poignancy. As the play ends wordlessly, anti-climactically, the characters’ will to thrive spills vibrantly off the screen and sends an awe-filled audience out into the night breathless and energized, tingling from the experience. Some scenes could use a careful edit for length; but as first plays go, “The Last of the Haussmans” is the real article. It earned a 5 Stars rating from the Sunday Telegraph and 4 Stars from Daily Express, Daily Mail, Evening Standard and The Times reviewers.
BAFTA, Golden Globe and Olivier Award-winner Julie Walters drives the plot as aging 60’s hippie rebel Judy, a nostalgia-consumed and sometimes drug-ridden family matriarch in decline. Her performance alone is well worth the price of admission.
Rory Kinnear and Helen McCrory play her estranged adult children, exhibiting a tangibly loyal sibling bond even in full battle mode. Matthew Marsh adds a Chekhovian dimension as an opportunistic family doctor and two-timing roué. Taron Egerton and Isabella Laughland, as an overburdened, lovestruck neighbor boy and Judy’s disaffected teen-aged granddaughter, provide stark contrast to the older generations’ self-pitying, deluded behavior and thicken the plot in unexpected, delicious ways. Howard Davies’ direction maintains the play’s over-riding mood of bittersweet disillusionment and decay while keeping scenes crisp and compelling, characters focused and real.
Dates and times for Dallas and Plano:
ANGELIKA – DALLAS Saturday, Oct. 27 2:00PM; ANGELIKA – PLANO Sunday, Oct. 28 2:00PM, Tuesday, Oct. 30 7:00PM
Review summaries of the National Theatre production:
Actor Julie Walters in conversation about her role in “The Last of the Haussmans”:
For future screening dates and information, see: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk
Posted in abbreviated form on content partner TheaterJones.com