Salford is quay to play

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review: “All The Way Home”, at the Library theatre at the Lowry until October 15th.

Box office: 0843 208 6000. Website: www.librarytheatre.com

Award winning Salford-born playwright Ayub Khan-Din’s new play is being premiered at the Lowry in Salford by The Library Theatre Company.

Based in part on his own experience of growing up as one of 10 children, this drama is both very funny and very sad. Set in 2002 the plot follows the emotional journey of a large family who have gathered to nurse a brother who is dying of cancer.

It traces their hostilities and love against a backdrop of a Salford, which is being demolished and rebuilt. The feeling of loss, change and uncertainty is strongly expressed and seeing it in a theatre in the heart of the regenerated quays area adds an extra significance.

An excellent ensemble cast demonstrate the individuality of the well-drawn characters. Judith Barker makes the most of several comic episodes as Auntie Sheila, the oldest member of the group. Sisters Janet (Susan Cookson), Sonia (Julie Riley) and Carol (Kate Anthony) bicker. Janet has stayed in Salford as has Sonia, a recovered addict, but Carol has escaped to posh Didsbury through marriage.

Brother Phillip (Paul Simpson) has also stayed, but Brian has left and lives in London as a successful photographer. His return provokes considerable discussion and upheaval. Sheila’s daughter Samantha (Naomi Radcliffe) tries to keep the peace. The presence of the unseen dying Frankie is pervasive, his wheezing and coughing heard on an incongruously jolly clown baby alarm.

There is the sense that when he, the one who remained in the family home, dies a whole world will change. Hayley Grindle’s design cleverly evokes the idea of the kitchen with the wasteland of a derelict Salford beyond and there are some amazing effects with lighting and rainfall.

Some of the dialogue is salty but always authentic. Mark Babych has directed a production well worth seeing. It made me laugh and cry.

The Library Company will return to the Lowry in December with “Wind in The Willows”.

PIPPA MUNRO HEBDEN