02:53PM, Wednesday 06 November 2019
A dinner party of young professionals in an up-and-coming part of London, the five are educated, witty and know each other of old – what could possibly go wrong?
Self-confident father-to-be Vincent and his partner Anna are visiting his sister Elisabeth and her husband, Peter along with childhood friend Carl.
The hosts dance a ballet of preparations, searching for lost keys and high-fiving for having got their kids to sleep, as Vincent, downstage directs a running commentary to the audience.
Then Vincent introduces himself, enters the flat and launches into full and fluent provocation of his brother in law setting the scene for for old rivalries, pretensions and preconceptions come to the surface.
The bomb is the name Vincent says he is going to call his soon-to-be-born son but this is just a first strike as grenades and flares start going off between the five.
The home truths and pricking of egos prompt lots of laughter and the cast, well known for TV and West End roles, hold the stage well. The set, by Francis O'Connor, looks great - you'd want to move in.
Joe Thomas gets the prize part of provocateur Vincent and makes the most of it, posturing and dissembling with aplomb. Bo Poraj goes the wringer as Peter, exasperated, frustrated and trying to keep a veneer of civility.
Laura Patch won the biggest laugh and a sympathetic clap for when Elisabeth gives a great departing speech, complete with justified door slam. Summer Strallen and Alex Gaumond provide strong support as Anna and Carl.
The play by Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière is translated from the French, and despite the references and action being changed from a Parisian arrondissement to Peckham, it still seemed very French somehow. I went with a French friend and she agreed.
What's In A Name... pretension pricking, stirring emotions and lots of laughter.