Family Values at theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39) is simply one of the best performed and presented dramas that I have seen on this Fringe, or any Fringe that I have reviewed. The quality of the production, story and most of all the acting is so far above what can sometimes be found at performances that it stands out immediately like a bright shining light. This performance could easily transfer now (with a few little changes here and there maybe) to any of the major theatre spaces in Edinburgh and be a hit.
Family values is the tale of two brothers trying to escape their “Family” and lead a normal life. Their family is part of “The Mob” and they both know that to even stand the chance of being free of their past, certain things must be done and that there may be a price to pay for those actions. When they have they think reached that stage and the safety of their very secluded home, two strangers turn up at their way off the beaten track door in the middle of the night and in the middle of a storm looking for help and shelter. Are they who they say they are, well, that is the story.
Our two brothers Liam (Ivan Comisso) and Trent (Federico Moro) are both outstanding in their portrayal of two brothers who have only known the “Family” way of life and the “Family Code” - which is printed on the programme and vital to the story and their mind-set. There is also an interesting story here on its own between the two brothers. Trent is the more brutal, cold blooded and obviously domineering brother who has tried where possible to protect his sibling from the harshest facets of the “Family Business”. Liam has on the face of it a softness and weakness that you would not expect, but underneath the veneer is a true “Family Member”. There is obvious tension here between the two brothers, but also a strange element of care for one another.
Perhaps it is because Federico is playing the stronger and more cold blooded killer and domineering of the two brothers rather than the softer and more subservient one, but his portrayal here is magnetic to watch.
Our two mysterious visitors May (Virginia Byron) and Frank (Tino Orsini) seem just perfect for their roles and are great counterbalances to the two brothers who, by the time they arrive at the house, are in a rather paranoid state. There is also some gentle well written comedy here between May and Frank and both have that ability to deliver the lines without deviating the story from its grim reality. We do find out (not giving any secrets away here) that neither May nor Frank are who or what they say they are, but is even that exposure yet another layer of lies and deceit.
Family values by Michael Dalberg and directed by David Gasperetti for the Ghost Light Theatre Group is just so well put together as a production. There are lots of nice little touches here such as the opening music being “Bang Bang (I Shot My Baby Down)” and the closing being “What A Wonderful World”. Good use of the small space available with a simple room setting (really just a couch and a drinks cabinet) that makes the performance easy to stage anywhere, and clever use of sound and script to make you imagine the space is larger inside and that there really is a storm outside.
My only regret with this show is that I have reviewed it in the last few days of its run here rather than at the beginning as I would have certainly made more than one visit to this performance.
Review by Tom King