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Other Desert Cities

Published 25 March 2014

What’s it all about?

This is the story of a man whose father’s a famous actor, mother’s a screenwriter, aunt’s a recovering alcoholic, brother’s a TV producer and sister’s a novelist suffering from depression. Quite a family! He, a radical who took his own life, may not appear in the play but is nevertheless present in the minds of his loved ones. Not least Brooke whose latest literary creation that is soon to be published is devoted to understanding his death.

On Christmas Eve at their luxury Palm Springs home, Brooke presents her mother and father with copies of the manuscript. When faced with its content, tensions begin to mount as, for reasons unbeknownst to Brooke, they must persuade her not to let their family story into the public domain.

Who’s in it?

American actress Martha Plimpton captures all the agony of Brooke, a woman unable to let go of her past. In the role of her mother – a woman unable to confront the past – Sinéad Cusack oozes matriarchal superiority, rolling sarcastic one-liners off the tongue in response to her daughter’s actions.

Daniel Lapaine portrays Brooke’s witty yet supportive brother and Clare Higgins is their comic drink-dependent aunt who is constantly searching for loopholes in the no-booze law imposed upon her. Peter Egan, a calming and rational presence for most of the play, comes into his own for the final 15 minutes, his voice steeped in pain as a father at the end of his tether.

What should I look out for?

Lapaine’s entertaining synopsis of The Lord Of The Rings and his equally funny request for “M&Ms or something”.

Who was in the press night crowd?

Niamh Cusack was there to support her sister alongside the Old Vic’s Artistic Director Kevin Spacey, actor Nigel Lindsay and the show’s director Lindsay Posner.

In a nutshell?

The Old Vic is beautifully transformed in-the-round for Jon Robin Baitz’s witty and compelling drama that exposes one family’s darkest secrets.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@Libby_Brodie Loved @oldvictheatre in the round! Revamp makes whole theatre seem fresher & more engaging. Excellent show too #otherdesertcities #teampolly

@AmiStidolph #OtherDesertCities was wonderful @oldvictheatre tonight. Sinead Cusack was sublime. Very funny – a must see for sure!

Will I like it?

This one is sure to appeal if you’re a fan of the playwright’s on screen American dramas – he created family drama Brothers & Sisters – if you’ve never seen the Old Vic in-the-round or if you’re simply just intrigued to know why Brooke’s book should never be published.

If you have relatives whose technical capabilities amount to reading information “in the internet” you’re also likely to find yourself laughing out loud at the similarities of the characters on stage.

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