Pros: Extremely well acted, very well written.
Cons: Very few cons.
The Sum Of Us at Above The Stag Theatre in Vauxhall is a wonderful story about family, love, acceptance and sacrifice. In the play, we meet an Australian father and his adult son, Harry and Jeff, who have a close knit and amusing relationship. They drive each other slightly up the wall whilst sharing a life and home together. Their relationship is strongly defined by two key things, the first being the loss of Jeff’s mother whilst he was still young. Both he and his father really feel her absence in their lives and her loss seems to have implications for both of them that reach outside of the walls of their house and seep into their relationships with others.
The second aspect that defines their relationship is that the son, Jeff, is gay, and his father is exceedingly accepting of this; something that isn’t overly characteristic of this time period. Throughout the play, their close bond is tried and tested as the two each try to find a partner and companion for their own lives. Both father and son bemoan the lack of love in their lives whilst simultaneously glazing over the fact that their relationship and love for one another is a truly rare gift; a rare gift that others around them fail to understand.
It’s a genuinely funny show. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments and Stephen Connery-Brown is hysterically funny in some of the moments where he’s playing the incredibly awkward, overly cool Dad – but make no mistake, it is incredibly moving as well. Both Harry and Jeff inevitably sacrifice outside relationships as a result of their unconventional closeness and acceptance of each other, but nothing quite breaks me like the twist in the third act of the play, where their relationship with each other becomes so poignant and the depth of affection they have for each other is brought so roughly and tumultuously to the surface.
This is a well-rounded production in every way. Both actors are really very good in their respective roles and it’s so easy to emphasize with them. The venue is fun and lively, and the front of house staff are incredibly friendly and approachable. There’s a strong sense of community here too.
The set has had some serious work put into it and is complete down to the last detail. The interior comprises the living room, hallway and kitchen and is fully furnished and accessorised. In the last third of the show, the setting suddenly changes and the versatility of the set comes to life. A few quick moves and suddenly the cozy interior of the family home becomes a lush and woodsy park. It’s very well done.
Overall, this is a strong production. Above The Stag is a theatre which puts on LGBT productions and this story about love and family brilliantly transcends notions of sexuality and gender and deserves to be seen and appreciated by as broad an audience as possible. The Sum of Us is well-written and brought to life in tremendous fashion. It’s well worth a trip to Vauxhall for the emotional ride this show takes you on.
Author: David Stevens
Director: Gene David Kirk
Producer: Above the Stag Theatre
Booking Until: 4 October 2015
Booking Link: http://www.abovethestag.com/whatson/