The Sum of Us (Above the Stag)

IMG_2449nThe off-broadway production of The Sum of Us ran for 391 performances when it opened in 1990 and was later turned into a film starring Russell Crowe. Now, David Stevens Australian play is playing at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall (the UK’s only full time LGBT theatre).

Harry and Jeff are father and son, living happily together since Jeff’s mother died. Their lives are simple but they are both looking for the same thing. Love. Harry has no problem with his sons sexuality and if anything is a little too accepting of it (getting out of bed to introduce himself to the men Jeff brings home at night). Can the two find love in their own different worlds? Or will things take a turn for the worse and show them that family is the most important thing in life.

What’s great about this show is how it breaks the fourth wall in a sitcom type Miranda-esq style where the characters turn to the audience and talk about what is going on in the show. It’s a nice touch that isn’t really done that often in live theatre but works well.

The role of Joyce is a fairly small part and comes and goes quickly. Annabel Pemberton is believable as the middle-aged woman who Harry meets through a dating agency but it would have been nice to see the pairs relationship expanded on a little. Rory Hawkins and Tim McFarland are a nice couple as Greg and Jeff and Stephen Connery-Brown is great as dad Harry.

What’s great about this show is the writing. Having spent time in Australia during my life, I really felt like I was back there with the slang type dialogue used in the show which tugged at my heart strings and left me yearning to go back to the wonderful country. The set was done out nicely as the early 90’s house which transformed into an open park during act 2.

The only part of the show that felt disjointed was Harry’s stroke towards the end of the show. It came out of nowhere and felt like it wasn’t really explained as to what had happened. I would have liked to see the transition between scenes a little more seamless.

The Sum of Us is the most important piece of theatre Above the Stag have presented in years. It’s heavy subject matter about father/son relationships really seemed to hit home with the audience and left several people blubbering away in tears towards the end. I’ve also never seen a standing ovation in a fringe venue like this, or at least I hadn’t until I saw this show.

Go and see it for yourself, it really is worth a watch.

Reviewed by West End Wilma

The Sum of Us is playing at Above the Stag Theatre until 4 October 2015. Click here to book tickets