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TheatreReview: Thoughtful take on all sides of family life.

Byline: Barbara Goulden

The Linden Tree Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth, until Saturday. Running time: 2hrs 45mins.

THIS is not a play for those with poor concentration levels.

It is long and luxuriates in the austerity of post-war Britain where values have changed forever and some people, like the Lindens' maid Mrs Cotton, beautifully played by Mary MacDonald, have turned grief into a comic madness.

But JB Priestley's family drama looks at life from all corners.

There's rakish son Rex (Mark Plastow) deciding it's every man for himself, while left-wing Dr Jean Linden (Julie Godfrey) tries to apply the rigour of the operating theatre to mending her broken heart, and sweet Dinah (Sarah Whittle) provides the ever-youthful voice of optimism.

We also meet Marion, another Linden daughter now living in France, who looks at grey Britain with a withering eye having left to pick up Catholicism and rural values in a chateau.

All try to persuade their aging father to quit the gritty, provincial life, but Professor Linden (John Dawson) no doubt reflects Priestley's own views when he says that retirement would feel like living in a conservatory surrounded by potted palms.

In fact Priestley himself did escape, to Alveston near Stratford, where he died in 1959 - no doubt finally succumbing to retirement at the request of his wife Jacquetta Hawkes, after they had founded the CND movement.

A thoughtful play, well directed, and a fine ensemble piece from this large, talented cast. ***
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 16, 2006
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