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Review: Queen's Theatre's In Basildon is a witty play about Essex life and family feuds

PUBLISHED: 15:51 25 March 2019

L-R: Beverley Klein and Lucy Benjamin in Queen's Theatre's In Basildon. Photo: Mark Sepple

L-R: Beverley Klein and Lucy Benjamin in Queen's Theatre's In Basildon. Photo: Mark Sepple

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A witty play about Essex life and family feuds makes for a highly entertaining evening in Hornchurch.

The cast of Queen's Theatre's play In Basildon. Photo: Mark SeppleThe cast of Queen's Theatre's play In Basildon. Photo: Mark Sepple

In Basildon at the Queen’s Theatre starts with Len, a die-hard West Ham supporter who has proudly made a career at Fords of Dagenham, but is now on his deathbed.

His two sisters haven’t spoken in 20 years and to the rest of their family’s dismay they continue to throw insults at each other when it is revealed that Len has changed his will.

From the moment Maureen (Lucy Benjamin) and Doreen (Beverley Klein) step on stage, the feeling of hate and betrayal between them is intense.

As the play unfolds we discover more about the cause of their ongoing feud and how they went from being the best of friends to mortal enemies.

L-R: Peter Temple, Beverley Klein and Lucy Benjamin in Queen's Theatre's In Basildon. Photo: Mark SeppleL-R: Peter Temple, Beverley Klein and Lucy Benjamin in Queen's Theatre's In Basildon. Photo: Mark Sepple

Romford playwright David Eldridge has created a great set of relatable characters who provide some tense moments as they struggle to come to terms with the death of Len and get through his funeral without resorting to physical blows.

A heartwarming flashback scene later on in the play reveals a time when the family was close and able to sit down for a meal together.

In Basildon shows the painful consequences of holding a grudge and the danger that old animosities will trickle down the generations to affect the children of those involved.

Despite the fact that the events of the play are set around a funeral and wake, there are still plenty of laughs.

L-R: Emily Houghton and David Hemsted in Queen's Theatre's In Basildon. Photo: Mark SeppleL-R: Emily Houghton and David Hemsted in Queen's Theatre's In Basildon. Photo: Mark Sepple

In particular, Ken (Patrick Driver) provides much of the comic moments as he tries to prove that he is ‘authentic Basildon’, as does Pam (Connie Walker) as the helpless neighbour who just wants to help but keeps getting in the way.

In Basildon, directed by Douglas Rintoul, is littered with local references and is as much about Essex and the East End as it is about the people who live in it.

The characters are brought to life by an array of strong performances from the cast as they show how precious and fragile family ties can be.

In Basildon shows at the Queen’s Theatre until Saturday, March 30.

Visit queens-theatre.co.uk for tickets.

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