IMAGINE if you can, life as a sloth and that'll give you the idea of the pace of act one.
Thankfully, this old school "right northern" play about a well-off family led by a factory owner splutters into life by act two.
But the only way is up, to quote a line from a certain pop song.
In act two we're treated to some memorable, at times impassioned confrontations between Rutherford, the patriarch from hell, and his two sons. John dreams of bettering himself for the sake of his infant son, while Richard is a man of the cloth, whose career aspirations are met with indifference by his indifferent dad, a man who eats, sleeps and breathes business.
Richard Sails (Rutherford), John Keen (John) and Scott Ransome (Richard) play these scenes with the perfect amount of heat. However, the play's most sympathetic characters are Martin, who has served his master man and boy and Rutherford's feisty daughter Janet, a likeable 30 something terrified of being left on the shelf. David Baxendale and Ali Davenport make sure there's no escaping their anguish when they're so unjustly treated.
I imagine this 100 year old was considered quite daring when it was first performed, as Rutherford's most worthy adversary comes from an unexpected source. But this play feels its age and I left the theatre wondering what a cast and a director as talented as these could have done with a play that has something to say to a 21st century audience.
* Until April 8. The box office is on 0161 928 1677. Star rating - ***