I spent this evening at the Oxford Playhouse with Becca from Oxford Reader, and her mother, watching Prunella Scales, Tim West, and Sam West in A Family Affair. The show took the form of a revue, with various excerpts from plays representing the different facets of family. How nice to have a show-business couple who have been married for 45 years, and even better to have a son happy to act with them – and all three are prodigiously talented.
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
It’s All Right If I Do It – Terence Frisby
When We Were Married – J.B. Priestly
The Birthday Party – Harold Pinter
A Number – Caryl Churchill
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Edward Albee
‘Father William’ – Lewis Carroll
And Harold Pinter’s Family Voices in its entirety.
The event was apparently rather thrown together, since all three have been appearing in plays up and down the country, all performing yesterday and travelling to Oxford today – but that made the event more endearing. They read from a folder, but never did reading seem more like fully rehearsed acting. No, what made it endearing was the odd slip, where both Prunella and Tim called Sam “Sam” when he was playing Stan in The Birthday Party; Sam pointed out Prunella’s place in her script when she lost it, and pointed her in the right direction when she was sat on the wrong chair. All very easy-going and, indeed, familial.
A simply wonderful evening – and has made me want to investigate some of these plays further. When We Were Married and It’s All Right If I Do It were especially good – very, very funny. They’d chosen comedic sections, for the most part, and the audience roared with laughter. It’s my first time seeing Prunella Scales or Tim West on stage, though I have seen Sam West in TS Eliot’s Family Reunion. I certainly hope it’s not the last time I see any of them, separately or together – a brilliant night out.