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Time: 16:21 23 May 2011

Suburban Essex comes to London for new play

23rd February 2012

A new play opened in London this week in the form of In Basildon, a production which takes a look at the lives of a working class family in Essex.

And judging by the first reviews, it could be an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy a night at the theatre during stays at central London hotels.

From David Eldridge, whose recent works include Under the Blue Sky and The Knot of the Heart, the play is set in a semi-detached house in Basildon in 2010 and tells the story of a family who come together over the deathbed of the clan's patriarch, 60-year-old Len.

As the play progresses various conflicts between family members, mostly over Len's legacy, are exposed.

His sisters Doreen (played by Linda Bassett) and Maureen (Ruth Sheen), who haven't spoken in years, both lay claim to the property, while a host of other characters, including Doreen's plain-spoken son Barry, Maureen's daughter Shelley, and neighbour Pam, also have their own selfish agendas.

Reviewing the production for the London Evening Standard, theatre critic Henry Hitchings praises Eldridge's script for its fresh take on British class issues.

Eldridge's script contains moments of pungent humour. Yet it's not just a chorus of guffaws," he said.

"Instead of recycling stereotypes, he probes or shatters them. The results aren't always easy to watch, but this is a piece packed with unsettling symmetries."
Paul Taylor, in a review for the Independent, also praised the script.

"Eldridge has a wonderful ear for dialogue that typifies the quirks and quiddities of this tribe … he has an Ibsen-like gift for bringing to the surface the intricate emotional under-webbing of the past," he said, concluding: "In Basildon is a gloriously rich, humorous, agonising and politically provocative play".

In Basildon is playing at the Royal Court Theatre until March 24th, with tickets priced from £10.


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