THE DEAR DEPARTED
King's Head Theatre, London N1
Opened 22 July, 1992 (lunchtime show)

"What it is to have a low, money-grubbing spirit!" declares Mrs Slater piously, and we just know that this is dramatic irony in spades.

Stanley Houghton's Edwardian interlude (first performed in 1908) is a slice of black, pointed Lancastrian comedy of social pretension. Granddad's just croaked; the daughter he lived with is pilfering his effects before her estranged sister arrives, and barbed pleasantries fill the air... but horror! the old buffer has only been dead drunk after all, and revelation follows shaming revelation like an edition of Oprah on FF.

Dan Crawford directs with the same unobtrusive craft he brought to Philadelphia, Here I Come!, and Nicky Croydon's pursed lips and sidelong looks eloquently bespeak frustrated notions of "delicacy". Overpriced for only 25 minutes, but a small delight of its kind.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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