Blavatsky's Tower: Alma Tavern
Thursday 12th March 2009

This is a Crackerjack review of Blavatsky's Tower.
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Crackerjack rating: 8 / 10.

Fretting over your family’s oddball tendencies? Worry no more. Moira Buffini’s splendidly weird play, Blavatsky’s Tower, parades a huge mash-up of familial tensions and dysfunctional behaviour that would make any real-life comparisons seem like the Waltons.

Alma shows are becoming steadily more accomplished: this one’s a winner.

Here lies a miniature set-piece on how, despite our best efforts at autonomy, we can no more control our destinies than a dandelion clock in a toddler’s fist.

Buffini, a founding member of the Monsterists – an energetic group in pursuit of big new theatre experiences – punctures a fragile skin of normality.

The plot is simple and describes a surreal, well-functioning alternate reality poised to implode at the slightest invocation of outside existences. The Blavastky family live, peaceably, if eccentrically, at the top of a 300ft tower built by their architect father, Hector. Now old, blind, bed-ridden and dying, he still rules the closeted roost.

When someone from “outside”, in the shape of one Doctor Dunn, pays the family a visit, light of every sort floods in and chaos ensues.

Elder sister Audrey, played with lascivious faux-sleepiness by Dee Sadler, is the only household member who ever leaves the flat and she clings to her veneer of worldliness. But it’s siblings Ingrid, Saskia Portway, and brother Roland, played with surefooted wit by Oliver Millingham, who comprise a tight-knit core of absurdist logic which helps to topple their father’s iron rule.

Sophie Lomax