The aftermath of the sixties provides the background for the Maddermarket’s latest deeply comic production.
Stephen Beresford’s The Last Of The Haussmans is set simply in the garden of a dilapidated but grand house on the south coast, and charts the reconciliation and possible destruction of a family formed in the white heat of the 1960s.
Mel Sessions is wickedly exuberant as Judy, the matriarch who was never a real mother to her two children Nick (Jonathan Massey) and Libby (Ginny Porteous). Sessions is the comic heart of the piece: wild, fun-loving, but sharp-tongued too, and demonstrates exemplary comic timing.
Massey plays the former junkie son with worrying conviction: sunken eyed, stumbling, but with a dash of good looks and a promising twinkle never too far from his eyes. Porteous takes the lynchpin role: the dutiful daughter whose nerves and almost obsessive need to look after others leaves her own life in a complicated mess. She is steely, tense, and knotted.
The cast is completed by granddaughter Summer (a sulking, scowling Felicity Parker), local doctor Peter (Neil Bain, who lends authority and a hint of duplicity) and the young swimmer/stalker Daniel, played with appropriate creepiness by Luke Hull.
While the topic – the impact of the permissiveness of the sixties on family life, the failure of the concept of revolution, and the harsh nature of capitalism – aren’t the most obvious comic targets this is an extremely enjoyable play, confidently staged and performed that wears its near three-hour runtime lightly.