At the moment we are spoilt for choice when it comes to plays in London, but hidden away inside the smaller theatre at Trafalgar Studios is one of the most special shows I have seen for a while, Mrs Lowry and Son.
Martyn Hesford’s new play is based on the life of artist L.S. Lowry. Set in 1934, Laurie finds himself living at home. He works a debt collector during the day, he follows the demands of his bed-ridden mother in the evening and at night slips up to the attic and paints. Mrs Lowry and Son is a play about the complicated and almost twisted relationship between a mother and son.
Trafalgar Studios 2 is one of the most intimate theatres in London and it works a treat for this production. I can’t image Mrs Lowry and Son being staged in a larger theatre as from the moment the play begins I felt as if I was sat in Elizabeth’s bedroom, spying on the action. The experience couldn’t be more different from sitting in a large West End theatre and, while at times it feels slightly squashed, the theatre and play certainly provide a unique and refreshing experience.
June Watson and Michael Begley both give faultless performances; they both clearly know their complex characters inside out. One moment I felt sorry for Laurie’s mother, Elizabeth, the next I didn’t like her... and then suddenly I found myself roaring with laughter as I fell in love with her. The pace of this intriguing two-hander rarely slows and I completely lost all awareness of time. The storyline isn’t huge and in your face, but I found it consistently engaging throughout.
While some shows seem to be getting bigger and bigger it is so nice to see a play which takes everything back to basics. Mrs Lowry and Son isn’t about dazzling costumes and flying sets, it’s about two characters with a story to tell. With a short running time of one-and-a-half hours I highly recommend that you see Mrs Lowry and Son if you are looking for a funny yet truthful evening at the theatre.
Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins
Reviewed on Friday 1st November 2013
Mrs Lowry and Son runs at Trafalgar Studios 2 until Saturday 23rd November 2013