Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh
August, 2000

Lynn Ferguson's second play (after 1995's award-winning Heart And Sole ) is a family drama told in monologues. Mother Ellen is preparing for the traditional family Guy Fawkes party, while daughter Jennifer hides on her return visit in her room with a bottle of red wine and a series of bilious opinions and father Douglas tries to sublimate his various concerns and guilts in a lecture on fireworks. The most significant absence is son Mickey, dead some years since.

The three actors Ferguson, and Hope Ross and Robert Paterson as her parents are deft in their characterisation and faultless in their delivery. The set of Stephen Powell's production subtly consists of a collection of domestic furniture, all badly charred... so we know, even without the opening flash-forward, that the evening is never likely to end in oohs and aahs at the pyrotechnics. Ferguson's central theme is embedded in the pun of the title: family relationships can be lethally inflammable.

Despite all the foregoing, a disappointing air of "so what?" hangs over the hour. Ferguson has created a sensitive snapshot of a family each trying to retreat into their own little world, but the play's conclusion (without giving the game away) is more a sudden coup than any kind of resolution; the play doesn't end, it just stops, rather definitively.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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