The Sum

May 6 – July 1

Everyman
https://www.everymanplayhouse.com/

3*

If you haven’t lain in bed at night wide awake doing mental arithmetic in every permutation to borrow from Peter to try and pay Paul, you may not fully appreciate this play. But probably all of us have been there in some shape or form at some point. If not in quite such dire straits as Eva, a very spirited performance from Laura Dos Santos. On top of her money problems,and from dementia struck mother to bullied daughter via feckless boyfriend and obsessively infatuated boss, the last thing she needs is to lose her job.

Times is hard; work is scarce, money even more so, but apart from these themes, what is interesting here is the unusual staging: four sort of mini sets, with bedroom and living room on one side, kitchen and garden to the right. And with a variety of lighting overhead, why, it’s almost as if BHS had never gone away. It works well for Eva’s home as well as McClasker’s store (plus a soup kitchen and the boss’s pad), as do the cast who finely orchestrate manoevres, even in all the excellent song and dance routines. Nonetheless, eventually it’s distracting because you cannot help but be convinced that somebody is bound to come a cropper, especially as the band, also first class, are stuck in the middle with you, or rather, them, down in a hole where memebers of the cast occasionally join them,

But this is to quibble, as is approaching the second half wondering what on earth else could go wrong. Well, Iris (Pauline Daniels on top form, particularly when singing) veers, emotionally, from fear to anger, with granddaughter Lisa proving to be exceptionally eloquent for a teenager; Emily Hughes in a remarkable portrayal. Keddy Sutton stands out as the down-to-earth Steph, Eva’s kind-hearted best friend from school while the two main men, as it were, albeit rather pathetic, bring this home by way of contrast, Patrick Brennan as the thoughtless if long suffering rich man, Liam Tobin as Danny Scott, hard up, open-hearted but just as thoughtless.

Ironically, give there is ample, neverending cause for vociferous complaint because of the state of affairs the characters have to struggle through, the jaunty musical side is uplifting. And as a political animal (as we all have to be in these turbulent times) and writer, Lizzie Nunnery has come up with something which deserves to be a roaring success.

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