Rutherford and Son at the York Theatre Royal Review

Rutherford and Son
York Theatre Royal

28 May – 1 June 2013

Reviewed by Nicola Cook

On Tuesday, 28 May, I visited York Theatre Royal to watch Rutherford and Son. Originally written in 1912, by Githa Sowerby and adapted by Blake Morrison, this is an Edwardian drama about the conflicts of a once working class family, who have risen to the top. The play focuses on the lead character’s destructive determination to maintain his status, regardless of the consequences on his family’s happiness.

Sowerby based the story on her own life, being born into a glass making family based in the north of England. Although it was written a century ago, the issues in the story still reflect life today. John Rutherford is a powerful man, who prides himself on the status of his family and he holds creating a legacy for the family as the most important thing in his life. Rutherford’s pride blinds him from seeing and accepting the thoughts and feelings of his family. His children feel repressed and resent the way he holds the family name in greater regard than them.

The cast is comprised of experienced stage actors. The cast is led by Barrie Rutter, who is also the founder and Artistic Director of the company, Northern Broadsides. Rutter’s character was short-tempered, and I feel that his authoritarian nature came across clearly, although I felt that there could have been more emotion from him as this made the character too one-dimensional. The play also starred Nicholas Shaw as John Rutherford Jr., Catherine Kinsella as Mary and Richard Standing as Martin. Kate Anthony (Coronation Street) stared as Anne, and helped provide some comedy moments in a dour northern style. The cast gave professional performances, but I did not feel as though their characters were developed far enough in order to build a relationship with the audience.

The stage is simple and set in the Rutherford household. Candles and low lighting were used to give the set an Edwardian atmosphere. However this made the scenery too dull. I felt that the play did have an interesting storyline and a relevance to society and relationships today, but the characterisation could have been improved.

Rating: 3/5

For more information or to buy tickets click here.

We have also seen this show with a different reviewer at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford. You can read the review here.

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