On the day of his father’s funeral, Benedict receives a message from beyond the grave.
The letter requests that he open it in the wine cellar, a good place to think, where it will be easier to understand. It bequeaths gifts in the form of his inheritance and also a last, perhaps overdue, conversation.
The heirloom is reasonably simple, the contents of the wine cellar to be split between his siblings. There is one difficulty – Benedict is a recovering alcoholic, sober these past 23 years. There is a singular bottle, a 1978 Château Lafite Rothschild, as complicated as Benedict, laid down when he was just two years old. It’s good, and his father’s dying wish is that he drinks it.
And so, as his father appears in spirit, there begins a discussion and an attempt at understanding, not just the nature of addiction, but their relationship and the love, pride and guilt that has been bottled up for all these years.
This seems a last chance for his father to indulge in the pleasure of sharing, something marked in life by his love of wine: the ritual, the smell, provenance, terroir, even glassware. Benedict needs breathing space to once again consider the struggle with the disease of addiction, which never goes away and awaits like a sleeping tiger.
While it’s slightly light-bodied, circling just the one main point, it is skillfully written and performed with insight, warmth, dry humour and just enough tension to keep it stimulating.
Show Times: 31 July to 26 (not 13) August 2019 at 4pm.
Tickets: £11 (£10) to £13 (£12).