"Great characterisation in amusing setting"
by Jill Lawrie for remotegoat on 01/05/19

The Minerva 2019 season opens with a fresh new musical by Tim Firth “This is my Family”. Unusually Tim has written the book, the lyrics and the music for this hugely enjoyable production, which had its debut in Sheffield. This feel good musical deals with both mundane domesticity and intricate family relationships.

The 13 year old at the heart of the story has won a competition, the prize being a holiday for her whole family anywhere in the world. She had to write about her family but her description of the various members was far from accurate! In her wisdom she feels a camping holiday back to Black Rock Lake where her parents first fell in love would be the ideal solution to heal the rifts and bring harmony back to her dysfunctional family. The weather was against them from the outset but gradually what began as a disastrous camping trip begins to see rewards unfolding with genuine pathos, poignancy and humour.

Director Daniel Evans has tweaked the show from its first outing in 2013 replacing the accordion with a harp and updating the social media references. Designer Richard Kent has excelled with his revolving set incorporating a number of large trees from the nearby Goodwood estate, a vertical slice of an incredibly cluttered house, several minutes of constant rain and candle lit lanterns floating skyward!

A skillful sextet of actors bring this fast-paced comedy to life. Young Kirsty MacLaren sparkles with a refreshingly natural performance as 13 year old Nicky so desperate for her family to bond. Scott Folan provides strong support as her gothic older brother with his accompanying monosyllabic mood swings. Clare Burt reprises her role as Yvonne, as does Rachel Lumberg as aunt Sian. Both capturing superbly the emotions of their diverse characters. James Nesbitt, who needs no introduction, plays 50 year old Steve with exceptional confidence and the remarkable 86 year old Sheila Hancock embraces her role as Nicky’s forgetful grandmother with great sincerity.

The characterisation, amusing libretto that holds the production together, and realistic settings, create a thoroughly convincing snapshot into the complexities of modern family life.

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