This production of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1980s play A Small Family Business is running in the Olivier at the National Theatre. This means that inevitably, we get to see the infamous drum revolve in use once again, giving us a superb view of the intricate and impressive set, which is basically a multi-storey house.
The play itself doesn’t quite live up to the amazing set, but it is amusing and pertinent enough. It stars Nigel Lindsay as hero Jack McCracken, who takes over the family furniture business only to find that it is a hotbed of corruption and racketeering. Though in many ways decent and honest, in trying to save his daughter from a shoplifting charge events run away with him and he ends up as corrupt as any of his family.
Though it’s a tad long, it’s entertaining and funny, and the ending rather shocked me. Ayckbourn’s Thatcher-era commentary on corrupted values isn’t his best play, but it’s worth seeing.