Stephen Grigg

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SUDS’s latest drama is a contemporary, cosy family get-together. You know those idyllic holidays in The beautiful Lake District with your nearest and dearest? This is not one of those!

Author Chloe Moss immediately turns the air blue. Stressed businesswoman Stacey, played by Lesley Cottingham, yells expletives down a mobile phone.

The last thing Stacey wants is for her parents to jump out and surprise her at that moment in time. Further awkwardness arises when black sheep of the family, Rob turns up with his latest girlfriend Angela in tow, who is one of Stacey’s best friends from childhood. As the wine flows, the bickering and small talk inevitably leads to more skeletons tumbling out of cupboards than a Halloween party.

Julia Bisby is terrific as Angela, the underprivileged girl who now owns her own hair salon, which with brazen black humour she calls Curl up and Dye. During a game of charades she wryly comments; “I’m not good at playing games, I forget the rules”. Jasmine Warwick plays new age mother Julia. If essential oils or spiritual advice from the paper don’t calm her down, a sweet tea does the trick. Husband Mike, played by David Walker is a self-proclaimed success story. While his wine snobbery is amusing, his emotional collapse is painful and difficult to watch. Dave Herbert’s Rob takes after his mum. It’s not every day you meet a guru who can breathe through his eyes.

Judicious editing would bring out the potential of this darkly humorous but overlong tale.