The most recurring of Storey’s themes, family conflicts, is nowhere more forcefully rendered than in In Celebration, first produced at The Royal Court. For their parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary, Andrew, Steven, and Colin Shaw—lawyer, teacher, and labor arbitrator, respectively—return to a grimy mining village to take their parents to the best local hotel for a celebratory dinner.
The dinner at the town’s most posh hotel serves as an occasion in act 1 for the renewal of familial relationships. In act 2, the acrimonious purging of family secrets, which for many years had lain unspoken beneath the surfaces of small-town respectability, takes place.
All three sons are the beneficiaries of a university education. Andrew and Steven are married and have families, and Colin is about to marry. All three seem to have fulfilled their parents’ dreams for them. Steven and Andrew have taken on the responsibility of parenthood. Colin, to his parents’ satisfaction, announces his intention to marry, adding that he will do so only because it is “less embarrassing to be married than not to be.”
Yet with rituals established—education, jobs, and family—something is amiss. Andrew, the eldest and most cynical of the sons, has given up law to become an artist. Steven has “packed in” the much-talked-about novel he is writing. Colin’s reluctance to marry, having an implication of homosexuality, foreshadows marital...
(The entire section is 536 words.)