Awake And Sing! – October 2007


By: Clifford Odets

Directed by: Michael Attenborough

Venue: Almeida Theatre

Date: Saturday 13th October 2007

This is the second play we’ve seen at the Almeida this year which is set around the time of the Depression in America. Big White Fog (16 June 2007) showed us the impact on a poor black family, while this play centres on a Jewish family with a strong mother, a father who’s achieved failure-hood at fifty, a daughter who’s well on the way to becoming a single mother till a marriage is arranged, a son who wants a better life, and a grandfather who has a lot of spirit but no way of doing anything about it, as he’s in a wheelchair. There’s also a chap called Moe Axelrod, whose connection with the family I couldn’t figure out but who eventually runs off with the daughter, and a brother, Uncle Morty, who’s done very well for himself, apparently.

Showing us a particular period through the lives of ordinary people can work very well, but here I felt it came across as more of a domestic drama, on a small scale. I didn’t get any sense of larger forces at work, although what did come across in both this play and Big White Fog was human resourcefulness triumphing in the end. Both plays left me feeling that these folks would get by.

The performances were all good, the set was fine, and Steve noticed that the Almeida is diversifying in order to make ends meet. They’d taken in a load of washing and it was hung up over the stage to dry – presumably the heat from the lights would do the job in double quick time. Or it could just have been set dressing to indicate the washing strung out between apartments. Whatever.

© 2007 Sheila Evans at

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