Benet Catty Productions

The American Family - Edinburgh 2011

Aug 13, 2011

Whatsonstage ****

Ten years ago, The Laramie Project definitively demonstrated the power of verbatim drama. Now Andy Paris, one of the creators of that masterwork, and students from the East-West Project have created a vivid theatrical exploration of the modern American family. This committed young company create a patchwork of lives and insights with considerable style in one of Edinburgh's least-condusive spaces.

Incorporating portable lights, umbrellas and shadow play, it showcases some striking performances (with three exceptional male actors) and largely avoids the sentimentality one might expect from the subject. Some moments, such as a gay student’s estranged relationship from his father and a girl’s comment that “You know you’re a grown-up when you testify at the trial of the man who raped you” are affecting; others are funny; and the finale is beautiful.

This fascinating short piece is clearly the basis for a longer play which can explore its themes in more depth than the scattering of stories displayed here allows. But the way it combines such a variety of subjects with such a dynamic visual flair makes it well worth catching and me, for one, keen to track its future life.

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