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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Cuckoo review: “It’s like a Coronation Street episode.”

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The Liverpool-based family in Cuckoo Play enjoys fish and chips while chatting about their personal life.

During the intermission of Michael Wynne’s play, a fellow theatregoer said, “It’s like an episode of Coronation Street.”

I had the similar notion as I watched a family of Liverpool ladies eat a fish and chip dinner, talk about their lives, and try to keep some semblance of equilibrium with the (unseen) men whose behaviour seemed to vary from the unreliable to the treacherous.

Vicky Featherstone, the Royal Court’s departing artistic director, directed the production, which is agreeably solid and beautifully performed. A hearty and messed-up humanity is brought to the stage by the matriarch Doreen (Sue Jenkins), her daughters Carmel (Michelle Butterly) and Sarah (Jodie McNee), as well as Emma Harrison, who is making her professional debut as the wayward daughter of Carmel, Megyn.

But its meaning is misleading. As this is a play in which nothing happens more than once, the nagging suspicion that I was missing some secret agenda persisted the entire time.

Wynne is known for his keen ear for dialogue and love of extended silences broken up by the beeps and pings of cellphones.

The idea that Doreen is more prepared to handle the challenges of modern life than her kids or granddaughter contrasts with Carmel’s fear of global annihilation (it can’t be a coincidence that Harrison resembles Greta Thunberg).

Thoughtful yet lacking in real provocativeness.

Cuckoo, through August 19 at the Royal Court Theatre. Reservations: 020 7565 5000

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