Young Vic turns its hand to farce: Government Inspector
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The good half of Chicken Soup with Barley

B011pkql_640_360 I don't want to seem ungrateful because I didn't pay for my ticket but it is difficult to properly review the Royal Court's Chicken Soup with Barley because I could only see half the stage from my seat.

Was really lucky to win two tickets which happened to be in the circle slips - avoid these seats like the plague - and I probably wouldn't have got to see this wonderful play otherwise, so I'm thankful for that.

But it doesn't get around the fact that for large chunks of key scenes I couldn't actually see any of the actors as the dinner table around which much of the action takes place was obscured. I'm not exaggerating but certain characters I didn't actually see properly until they took their bow.

Anyway pushing that to one side, what I saw was brilliant. This is a political play with a real heart. Sarah Kahn (Samantha Spiro), an East End Jewish mother, is a communist, an idealist and obsessed with making sure everyone is fed and watered at every opportunity. She also lives under her own obscure but amusing sort of logic.

"God knows what I'll do without air when I'm dead"

Every ounce of homemaker is more than matched by her passion for the cause, nothing will stop her protesting and fighting for what she sees as right.

Her husband Harry (Danny Webb) is hen-pecked and for all his talk seems to be along purely for the ride, happy to bring up the rear waving the flag but ducking out at the first sign of trouble.

The play is set in the Kahn's cramped flat starting in October 1936 on the day that Sir Oswald Mosely plans a fascist rally through the East End. Kahn, her family and friends are all planning to take part in counter protest, full of enthusiam and excitement for the cause. It gives them purpose, one - Dave - is even planning to go to Spain to fight Fascism there:

"I'm not even sure that I want to go, only I know that if I don't then - then - well, what sense can a man make of his life?"

But over the next 20 years events slowly wear them down and reality bites.

There are some superb performances particularly from Spiro who makes for a bustling, quick-tongued and thoroughly likeable Sarah and Webb as the increasingly frail and dependent Harry.

I want to give it five stars - it should really have five half stars - but I'm going to knock one off for the bits I didn't see. Over on it's got three four star reviews


This one is proving tricky but I'm working on it...