The Box of Tricks @ 24:7 Festival

Review by Matthew Charlton | 08 Aug 2014
  • The Box of Tricks

When they were younger, Mark and Mike were as close as any brothers could be. But when Mark is killed in an accident, how did the pair become so estranged from one another that Mike will not even speak at his brother’s funeral? 

Writers Stephen M Hornby and Ric Brady prove that they have a lot of surprises up their sleeve in this compelling family drama. Director Helen Parry deftly handles the mystery of the event that actually estranged the brothers, and, with Hornby and Brady’s script never feeling forced, the plot is allowed to develop naturally.

Both Sam Thompson (Mike) and Sam Moran (Mark) handle the flashback sequences well, capturing the energetic and emotional relationship between brothers. They especially good at conjuring up the wide-eyed childlike enthusiasm for times when all that mattered to them was getting a sausage sandwich rather than coping with their mother’s increasing alcoholism.

Thompson gives a stand out performance, utterly believable as Mike, with resentment and love for his brother rippling off him in waves. A very articulate young actor, Thompson’s expression and depth in his portrayal make him one to watch for the future. 

Elsewhere, Judy Holt gives a convincing portrayal of the dependable and sincere Auntie Pat and there’s strong support from Sam Moran, Richard Sales and Kate Lavelle.

The Box of Tricks is a solid piece of theatre, with a natural flow and a realistic story. Fractured families may be all the rage for kitchen sink drama, but The Box of Tricks has delved deep to go back to basics in an emotionally fulfilling journey that has proved to be a highlight of this years 24:7 offerings.