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The Breadwinner @ The Orange Tree Theatre

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by Robyn Townsend (subscribe)
BA English student studying at the University of Birmingham. Reviewing theatre, films, books, local events. My Twitter is @robynwithayuh
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Just how winning is Maugham's The Breadwinner?
The Breadwinner

Somerset Maugham's biting satire from 1931 is proved to still be amusing and relevant in the twenty-first century, with its recent revival at The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond.

The staging is in-the-round and intimate; the audience are transported in to the living room of an upper-middle-class family, where first we see four spoiled rich teens (Joseph Radcliffe, Nathalie Buscombe, Jeremy Lloyd and Sarah Schoenbeck) discussing what they might do with their parents now they have no need of them, complaining about the traditions and habits of their folks, and wondering what they can ask their fathers, the stockbroker and solicitor (Ian Targett and Mark Frost), to buy for them next.

Meanwhile, the wives (Cate Debenham-Taylor and Isla Carter), bored of their husbands, tease one another about little flirtations, and plot a holiday where they can escape from the boredom of their current lives, financed again by the 'self-sacrificing' working men who must work to bring beauty in to their significant others' lives.

And of course, just as everyone begins to wonder where the 'breadwinner' of the family has got to, Charles (Targett) enters with a surprise announcement, and a fresh view on his business and domestic life.

Certainly, first night nerves had the performers a little shaky and unsure; however the dialogue and chaotic action provoked laughter from an audience of both students and the older generation, proving that Maugham's production is entertaining for all ages, and the subject relevant for those who experienced the war and others who have heard stories. The play reflects on the decade after World War 1, when those who served on the battlefields had to return to 9 to 5 jobs, and found family values twisted by consumerism which forced them in to lives of boredom.

The Breadwinner is still satirical and humorous and Charles, the man with no humour, is proved to have the most of all his friends and family, and a more realistic view of his life and it's meaningless nature.
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Why? 1930s satire still relevant and interesting today
When: Until May 18th, performances at 7:45pm with some 3pm matinees
Phone: 0208 940 3633
Where: The Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond
Cost: 8.25 - 16.50
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