Whats In A Name - Aylesbury Waterside Theatre - ATG Tickets (atgtickets.com)
Disastrous middle-class dinner parties
have been the theme of many plays over the years, allowing the characters the
chance to vent hidden feelings and thoughts to create a mix of comedy and
drama. What’s in a Name was written
by French writing team Alexandre de la Patelliere and Matthiu Delaporte.
The original play premiered in 2010 at the
Théâtre Édouard VII in Paris, France, where the production received six Molière
Award nominations and ran for over 300 performances. Matthew Delaporte and Alexandre de La
Patellière then wrote the screenplay for the film
(2011) which played to over 3.25 million people in France alone. It received
widespread critical acclaim, and won several César awards from the French
Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques, along with
the Grand Prix Hydro-Québec at the Festival du
cinéma international en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and the Radio Canada Audience
Award at the Cinéfranco International Francophone Film Festival in Toronto. The play has now been
translated into over 22 languages, and has had incredible box office success
around the world.

Father-to-be Vincent and
his partner Anna are invited to dinner by his sister Elizabeth and her husband,
Peter. They are joined by childhood friend Carl for a mature and sophisticated

The meal is lovingly
prepared, and wine carefully selected. The friends are prepared for the usual
humorous exchanges they've come to expect.

But tonight, a startling
revelation about the name chosen for Vincent's and Anna’s expected child
becomes the catalyst for a destructive argument which spirals hysterically out
of control. Tonight no one is holding back! Egos, childish resentment and
unspoken feelings are relentlessly and hilariously exposed for the first time.

Inbetweeners actor Joe Thomas provides an opening
commentary on the situation before arriving as the wealthy protagonist Vincent,
who constantly goads Peter (Bo Poraj) about his choice of unusual children’s
names, creating a toxic atmosphere that sets the scene for dramatic changes.

Laura Patch plays
Peter’s long-suffering wife, Elizabeth,
who has spent hours creating her Moroccan feast, as well as putting their
children to bed and reveals that she’s fed up by his lack of support.

Old friend Carl (Alex Gaumond) tries his best to
keep the peace when things start to unwind, but his own revelations create
further conflict.

Vincent’s wife Anna
(Summer Strallen) is the heavily pregnant wife who started smoking when she
became pregnant and is fed up of Vincent’s
constant jibs at Peter.

The play has a
viciousness and cruelty that I found it hard to like or relate to any of the
characters.  The language was crude at
times and the story of murdering a dog was vile, so it was shocking to hear
laughter about that incident which made me wonder how the lines of comedy can become
so blurred?

Having a narrator at the start
and end of the play didn’t really add any value I felt, as I really didn’t care
what happened to these awful people.

From an acting point of
view, this does give the actors a good platform for their individual talents.  Sitting in the stalls though, people were complaining
that they couldn’t hear the actors in the vast cavernous space of the Waterside
which is something that the cast really do need to address.

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye