Losing Louis

Opened 23 February 2005, Closed 25 June 2005 at the Trafalgar Studio 1 in London

Simon Mendes da Costa's new play Losing Louis in London starring Lynda Bellingham and Alison Steadman

The strain of a family reunion, following the death of their father, causes moments of ghastly social embarrasement for two brothers and their wives, with side-splitting results. Set in the bedroom of the family home, Losing Louis, ingeniously interweaves past and present to give us a poignant insight into family secrets that continue to affect their lives.

This production comes into London's West End following an acclaimed run at the Hampstead Theatre in North London in January 2005.

The cast features Alison Steadman as 'Sheila', Lynda Bellingham as 'Elizabeth', David Horovitch as 'Tony' and Brian Protheroe as 'Reggie' with Jason Durr as 'Louis', Emma Cunliffe as 'Bobbie' and Anita Briem as 'Bella' - who all reprise their roles from the Hampstead Theatre run (previewed from 20 January 2005, opened 24 January 2005, closed 19 February 2005). Directed by Robin Lefèvre with designs by Liz Ascroft, lighting by Mick Hughes and sound by John Leonard.

Alison Steadman's London stage credits include the role of 'Hilary' in Debbie Isitt's production of her own play The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2002; the role of 'Teresa' in Terry Johnson's production of Shelagh Stephenson's comedy Memory of Water at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1999; the role of 'Mari Hoff' in Sam Mendes' production of Jim Cartwright's The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice at the Aldwych Theatre in 1992; and the role of 'Mea' in Howard Davies' revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 1988.

David Horovitch's London credits include the role of 'Prince Philip' in Max Stafford-Clark's production of Sue Townsend's The Queen and I at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1994; and the role of ''Gerald Croft' in Bernard Miles' revival of J B Priestly's An Inspector Calls at the Mermaid Theatre in 1973.

Brian Protheroe's West End stage credits include the role of 'Zhorzh' in Anthony Clark's production of Anton Chekhov's The Wood Demon at the Playhouse Theatre in 1997; and and the original cast of David Taylor's production of the musical Pump Boys and Dinettes at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1984.

"Losing Louis is set in a flowery Fifties bedroom with a double bed and a wardrobe. Cue hankypanky and skeletons tumbling from the closet. Simon Mendes da Costa's new black comedy about sex, death, sibling rivalry and being a bit Jewish - or not - has the flavour and texture of underseasoned, insufficiently warmed-up leftovers of Alan Ayckbourn and Mike Leigh... Robin LeFevre's production needs sharpening up as well as restaging. The theatre's appalling sightlines need to be taken into consideration if those on the aisles, like me, are not going to be forced to imagine why the rest of the audience is tittering. Fortunately, you can't miss Alison Steadman reprising her Abigail's Party-piece. Poured into something clingy and plunging and wholly unsuitable for a funeral, she shrieks and squawks like a parrot stuck in a loop. Oxo mum Lynda Bellingham says the F-word (twice) and confesses to an extremely intimate piercing. There are also a couple of painfully funny moments. For the most part, however, the play remains stubbornly mediocre." The Mail on Sunday

"This is only Simon Mendes da Costa's second staged play, but it bristles with humour, intelligence and nifty technical expertise. It is witty, cruel and forgiving: a comedy of love, sex, death and being Jewish... The play keeps shifting between the 1950s and the 1990s, when Louis is being buried. A key to it all comes early on. Sheila, the wife of Louis's son Tony, tries to explain to him about the speed of light, and how it means that anything you see, be it the sun or your own husband, is already in the past. You see not what is, but what was. That is the point. Tony and his brother Reggie are still breathing the fetid air of childhood resentments. Families, and not only Jewish ones, are conspiracies of past grievances. Who got taken to the football match? Who should have married Reggie's more upmarket wife, Elizabeth? At the end, everything is resolved and nothing is - which suggests that da Costa understands how families survive unto death. Robin Lefevre's direction is expertly paced and ruthlessly observant, with the best kind of serious comedy acting: black, sparkling and hilarious." The Sunday Times

"Simon Mendes da Costa's Losing Louis may have its flaws, but it provides the basis for a highly enjoyable evening; and the author is someone we are likely to hear a lot more of. The action takes place in a single bedroom. First - it's about 50 years ago - we watch Louis having some extramarital fun with a girl who works in his office. The only problem is that he finds that his small son Tony has been hiding under the bed. Switch to the present. Enter Tony, now a morose middle-aged man, and his wife Sheila, brimming over with good will and bad taste. They are about to be joined by Tony's far more successful younger brother Reggie (of whom he is bitterly jealous) and well-groomed Mrs Reggie. It's the day of Louis's funeral... Some of the recriminations and long-kept secrets which come tumbling out seem mere plot contrivances... But we also get a succession of striking individual incidents and exchanges (mostly funny, sometimes touching), while the main roles seem tailor-made for an outstanding cast." The Sunday Telegraph

Losing Louis in London at the Trafalgar Studio 1opened on 23 February 2005 and closed on 25 June 2005