Rogue Theatre presents: The Family
Fri 2 Apr
Wales Millenium Centre
Wickedly funny and crackling with mordant energy, Rogue Theatre‘s The Family slopes into The Weston Studio in a flash of magnesium and a puff of smoke. Like December’s brilliant Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, it blends elements of burlesque and cabaret, but is most obviously indebted to Hammer Horror – and this is one show that really wears its influences on its sleeve.
It is clear that something is amiss from the start: this ‘family’ consists of a brother and sister, daughter-in-law and father. Confined to a vast, haunted mansion, they live comfortably and aristocratically, but their lives are monotonous and repetitive, and it appears that they are also underwritten by a dark secret. The plot concerns the gradual exposition of this murky past, as the fabric that holds the family together unravels.
The characters are a real mélange of Hammer Horror favourites: we have Vincent (Ollie Oakenshield), the Rasputin-esque mad scientist; Millie (Wendy Taylor), the blonde bombshell and failed burlesque performer; Rhoda (Angelina Boscarelli), the eccentric aristocrat; and Sally (Becky Bordeaux), the laconic maid, who has an endearing lisp and a mischievous streak. Rhoda is particularly good. Riding crop in one hand, goblet of wine in the other, she trots around the stage looking for ways to ease the interminable boredom of life in the mansion. Shrill and frightfully made up, her high-pitched titter is infectious.
The references to Hammer Horror come thick and fast. There is a shadowy, backlit laboratory scene; a Frankenstein inspired plot; even an Addams Family-esque rapier duel. It’s all channeled with shameless glee and enthusiasm. The Family‘s poignant moments are handled with similar skill, and are creepy and affecting without being drawn-out and sentimental. This play is no kitten: rapacious and thrilling, it bristles with malice.