josephine-lane
31st January 2012

Told By Theatrical Geniuses

Review- You Can’t Take It With You at the Royal Exchange
Told By Theatrical Geniuses

Five stars out of five

It told the story of the Sycamores, the eccentric but entirely loveable bohemian family in 1930s America. The snag in the giddy familial bliss comes when daughter Alice returns with new romantic suitor and later fiancé/boyfriend, conventional but charming, Toby Kirby. The Sycamores of course are over-zealously welcoming and Toby is charmed and delighted by them all. Alice has her doubts however, and believes that the two of them would never work as he or indeed his parents would never truly understand or accept her family’s eccentricities and laid-back attitude. After a disastrous dinner party with the upper class, pompous Kirbys, Alice calls her and Toby off and attempts to leave town. But after a showdown between the two families and a serious convincing for all delivered by Grandpa Vanderhof, the Kirbys (and even Alice) learn a thing or two about the importance of taking it easy.

Although an original 1930s Kaufman & Hart script, ‘Told By An Idiot’ certainly left their own stamp on the play. They used every height level possible (wannabe dancer Essie entered from the ceiling at one point, donned with fairy wings) and all of the stage dressings and set were on wheels, creating a setting which, although was only one room, conveyed the idea of the higgledy-piggedly world of the Sycamores, lost in a mass of ever moving xylophones, model boats and writing desks. The moving set matched up perfectly with the cast, who were practically on wheels themselves in terms of the physical nature and energy of the piece. The play brought the audience constant delights, such as a few indoor fireworks and a mechanical (but very real looking) pet snake!

The characters and acting were simply delightful, even the Kirby’s stone cold demeanors had a pantomime villain feel to them, and you couldn’t totally hate them. Each Sycamore member captivated the audience with their individual hobby or interest, however incompetent they may have been. The energy created a beautiful ensemble piece between the actors and the audience felt part of the Sycamore family too!

‘You Cant Take it With You’ was flawless. Cheesy as it sounds, rarely will one leave the theatre feeling as warm inside as after seeing a production like this. A heart-warming celebration of existentialism and the individual.

You Can’t Take It With You ran at the Royal Exchange Theatre from 7th December until 14th January. 


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