Welcome to paisley wallpaper land - wing armchairs, flying ducks on the wall, bleached nets and a nice clean front step. No, it isn't our Nish's Nana's in the Meadows, Enjoy is set in the last back to back terrace house in Leeds, bulldozers looming as shiny new 70s social high rise housing beckons.
Wilfred ‘Dad’ Craven (David Troughton) sits in his armchair with a plate in his head, unable to work thanks to a hit and run accident. Tended, between porn mags, by his apron clad cheery wife Connie (Alison Steadman) who’s showing the early stage’s of Alzheimer’s.
Dad & Mam’s birds have flown the nest, a son they don’t talk about and a tarty ‘secretary’ daughter who comes and goes. Life creeps on as the relocation looms. Enter a sharp suited lass from the local corporation, to sit mutely and take notes, recording the old couple’s way of life before it disappears forever under the caterpillars. Now, there’s nothing quite like scrutiny to make folk act up and that lass Ms Craig, well, isn’t she a man? (played by Richard Glaves).
Being a Leeds born lad, Alan Bennett has clearly written from the heart, the rich attention to detail is inspiring in itself, which sits alongside an eye wateringly funny, laden with black and rather spikey humour.
One minute it’s slapstick hilarity, like when Connie and next door gossip merchant and blue rinse stalwart Carol demonstrate the dying art of ‘laying out’ an apparently dead Dad. The corpse being unusually ‘stiff’. Yet the next we see get poignant references to loneliness, abuse and frustration. Emotive stuff. Watch with voyeuristic glee as forgetful Mam, despondant Dad and lusty daughter Linda are put under the spot light, the home truths coming out left right and centre before a bizarre salvation appears which may just save their way of life.
Back in 1981 when the show first played it was a flop, perhaps a bit close to the period it was taking aim at. However all is forgiven, 30 years on and this darkly satirical comedy about the demise of a class and a way of life, has aged into favour with nostalgic audiences. This is the touring version of a show that was a big hit in the west end and even features the London cast. It went down a treat with the Nottingham audience, me included, who enjoyed every ounce of the black comedy in this, often quite surreal, tale of the last back to back in Leeds.
Enjoy plays at the Nottingham Theatre Royal from Monday 15 to Saturday 20 March 2010.