Happy families — not

Issue 

Happy families — not

Straight and Narrow
Written by Jimmie Chin
Directed by Alex Lanhan
New Farm Nash Theatre, Brisbane
Until December 4
Phone 3217 6653 to book

Review by Lynda Hansen

Straight and Narrow traces the disintegration of Bob (Matthew Filkins) and Jeff's (Colin Norris) relationship amidst the emotional chaos of an English working-class family.

Early on in the play we meet Bob's mother, Vera, who lives in a dream world in which Bob and Jeff are just good mates who share the rent. Vera is in perpetual denial, as are all the other characters. One of Bob's sisters, Nona, obsessively cleans house to block out her distress at her husband, Arthur, shooting through with another woman.

Each family member is immersed in a drama of their own as Bob and Jeff sink into their personal hells. Only Lois and Bill know the truth about Bob and Jeff's homosexual relationship, and they do their best to counsel the stricken pair.

Straight and Narrow exposes the weaknesses and confusion in family life. This is encapsulated in Vera's belief that all would be well "if Bob could just find a nice girl and settle down".

The audience is treated to some eye-popping revelations about Vera's husband, but will Vera ever find out? It seems not, which is a pity because it would do her family the world of good to know.

A hard-working cast and polished direction produce a harrowing yet amusing insight into the limitations of traditional family values.