Review: Frankland & Sons

Written for Whats On Stage

There’s a striking resemblance in the younger man to the elder standing next to him. As father and son one would expect this, but surprisingly it’s quite a jolt; a visceral reminder of the depth of the relationship between these two performers. It’s a powerful initial impression for Frankland and Sons, a sketchy personal biography about parents, siblings and hidden truths.

When John was left a box of his parent’s correspondence, he asked Tom to help him muddle through these letters of love and practicality. Out of this exploration a show was born. “It’s either marriage or the Bank of England” is a typical quote thrown out in this softly humorous look at relationships and times gone by, ending up in a life changing revelation for John.

The affection for their subjects is palpable in Frankland and Sons and though the secret at its centre is vast, recriminations are admirably absent. Emotion is thick on stage however with John and Tom aiming to pull at the heart strings very deliberately and sometimes even physically (the set consisting of a timeline of red strings with balloon hearts indicating years skating above). Whilst they are deeply likeable a lot is asked of their audience that they haven’t quite won and the regular attempts to draw our own secrets out feel slightly forced.

There’s a determinedly bumbling feel to the music hall style of the piece. It’s a sweet if slightly shabby rendition and on the opening night it felt too fragile to truly fly. But given some breathing space I believe Frankland and Sons will relax into the tender and effecting sharing that it could so easily be.

Runs until 28th January 2012, Camden People’s Theatre