Guns and roses: But It Still Goes On @Finborough

Repressed homosexuality, sham marriages, vengeful lesbians and global chaos. What’s comforting about Robert Graves’s But It Still Goes On is how little things have changed since the interwar period. Well perhaps there’s less repressed homosexuality nowadays in London. Written in 1929 it’s having a belated world premiere at the Finborough Theatre until 4 August.

Part comedy, part tragedy-melodrama the action focuses on the family of Cecil Tompion (Jack Klaff). A popular and hard-living writer whose children have lived in his shadow. He left their mother for a woman who gave his work better reviews. His son, Dick (Alan Cox) survived the trenches but remains haunted by a gun he used to kill a soldier.

Daughter Dorothy (Rachel Pickup) is a doctor and marries Dick’s best friend David (Victor Gardener). Trouble is that David’s in love with Dick. Or should that be just dick? And when Dorothy’s friend Charlotte (Sophie Ward) isn’t in love with Dorothy she’s in love with Dick too.

It’s frank depictions of life and sex in 1930s London using the premise of a drawing room comedy gives this piece an edge. Amid the drinking and fine dining family secrets are chewed over and spat out. It’s a civilised yet relentless critique of the life of a family and the times they are living in.

The brisk direction and ensemble keep things well balanced, even when the plot sags (or becomes a little too preposterous). A simple looking, yet well-crafted production of a show that for some reason wasn’t ready for the stage in the 1930s.

The play is part of the Finborough’s Theatre The Great War at 100 series. And it’s a reminder that the war wasn’t neither great, nor warranting the uncritical eye it seems to get these days. It was hell and haunted those who endured it.

Directed by Fidelis Morgan, But It Still Goes On is at The Finborough Theatre until 4 August.


Photos by Scott Rylander

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