Review: Rutherford and Son, National Theatre

A superb cast including Roger Allam elevates a fine production of Rutherford and Son at the National Theatre

“There’s not a scrap of love in the whole house”

It’s grim up north. I can say this as an absent son of t’other side of the Watford Gap. But in Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son,  it really is tough-going. Roger Allam’s mightily bearded Rutherford is a ferociously brutal industrialist from the north-east of England who is fierce at home as in the glassworks he runs but down a generation, there’s a growing tendency towards not putting up with such levels of grimness. 

One of his sons bogged off to London and has come back with a working class wife and child, the other wants to find God in Blackpool and his daughter has pretty much been the downtrodden whipping boy for 30-odd years. But it is the beginning of the twentieth century and change is afoot – political and personal, societal and sexual and writ large in the generational struggle here, it can be powerfully affecting. Continue reading “Review: Rutherford and Son, National Theatre”

News from the National Theatre Autumn 2018 Press Conference

All sorts of goodies were announced today for the upcoming slate of productions at the National Theatre, including Small Island, Peter Gynt, and Top Girls 

Olivier Theatre

Small Island, a new play adapted by Helen Edmundson from Andrea Levy’s Orange Prize-winning bestselling novel, will open in the Olivier Theatre in May. Directed by Rufus Norris, the play journeys from Jamaica to Britain through the Second World War to 1948, the year the HMT Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury. Small Island follows the intricately connected stories of Hortense, newly arrived in London, landlady Queenie and servicemen Gilbert and Bernard. Hope and humanity meet stubborn reality as, with epic sweep, the play uncovers the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK. Hundreds of tickets for every performance available at £15. Small Island will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide as part of NT Live. Continue reading “News from the National Theatre Autumn 2018 Press Conference”

Theatre Review: Rutherford and Son, St James Theatre

“The family business is a millstone round your neck”

It’s nice to be able to get the opportunity to follow through on recommendations from other bloggers – on a snowy day in Colchester, Gareth advised me to try and catch Northern Broadsides’ revival of Githa Sowerby’s Rutherford and Son on its original tour but I was unable to fit it into the diary. So the announcement of its transfer to the St James was a most welcomed one but also a pleasing fit for what one hopes will be a frequent use for this newest of London’s theatres.

Set in 1912, John Rutherford is an archetypal paterfamilias, ruling both at work and at home with at iron fist. But the family business, a Yorkshire glassworks, is struggling and his three adult children are all entirely dissatisfied with their lot – his professional success has come at huge personal cost and it takes the most unexpected intervention to get him to even consider the changes would secure his legacy. Continue reading “Theatre Review: Rutherford and Son, St James Theatre”