Cobwebs hang from an uncovered lightbulb, windows are obscured by decades of grime, a stained mattress that has seen who-knows-what horrors lies ominously on the floor, and in the corner, covered by a dust sheet that may have been there since time began, sits a lectern. The Manhattan loft space is one disturbed spirit away from a Gothic asylum.
In some ways, I suppose, it is a tale of ghosts. Siblings Walker and Nan are drawn together to settle the estate of their dead-for-a-year father. Also invited is Pip, the son of his architectural business partner Theo. All three grew up together and share a familial relationship, but the discovery of a hidden journal and the decision of the will throws new light on what they believed their lives to be. The ghosts of the past come back to haunt them.
While the present plays out in Act I, Act II takes the audience back to 1960, to see the real events that took place in the three days of rain described in the newly found diary, exposing the truth of the offspring’s beliefs.
Richard Greenberg’s drama calls upon the cast of three to take on different roles in each half. James McAvoy, in his first return to the London stage since making his name in Hollywood, leaps from a twitchy, hyperactive, highly-strung Walker in Act I, to the introverted, self-doubting architect father after the interval, eloquently stuttering his way through the action. Nigel Harman’s first half Pip is a caring soul with just a hint of camp about him, while father Theo is more head strong and selfish. Lyndsey Marshal is restrained and refined as the elder sister fearful of getting too close to her brother, before breaking loose as the brash, bold Lina whose presence is the catalyst for discord in both ages.
In the hands of director Jamie Lloyd, the plot proceeds apace, drawing out long-held tensions and revealing the difference between what we believe to be the truth about our ancestry, and the actuality of it.