Black comedy Smack Family Robinson is shockingly funny

Apr 8, 2013

'One Man, Two Guvnors' writer Richard Bean reveals dark side in comedy about a drug-dealing family

What you need to know
A revival of Richard Bean's black comedy Smack Family Robinson has opened at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. Bean, author of stage hit One Man, Two Guvnors, has updated his 2004 play and relocated the action to Surrey.

The story revolves around the Robinsons, a couple who have run a drug-dealing business since the 1960s. They have a comfortable suburban lifestyle, but are struggling with how to adapt to a changing world, and who will take over the family business.

Richard Wilson directs Keith Allen (The Comic Strip Presents) and former Coronation Street actress Denise Welch. Runs until 20 April.

What the critics like
A cross between Mike Leigh and Joe Orton, Bean's Smack Family Robinson is "a rancid yet undeniably enjoyable black comedy", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The superb production captures the humour and the darkness of this "disgracefully entertaining" play.

"Richard Bean is a master of the killer line," says Henry Hitchins in the Evening Standard. There's lots of pantomime-style humour but plenty of punchier material, too, in this boisterous, knowingly ludicrous play.

Smack Family Robinson is part of a spate of recent works in which the younger generation bite back at their feckless baby boomer parents, says Paul Taylor in The Independent. Bean's uproarious play is the least politically correct of the lot, and makes for a very enjoyable evening.

What they don't like
"Anyone expecting the innocent, slapstick tone of One Man, Two Guvnors will boggle at the dark amorality in this play," says Libby Purves in The Times. It's a cheeky parody with some sensational performances, but caution your more shockable relatives against it.

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