Clubland (15)

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The Independent Culture

Brenda Blethyn gets her teeth into the role of a flamboyant showbiz monster who can't accept that her career has failed to make the big time. She plays Jean Dwight, a comedienne whose bawdy routine was a hit before she left England for Australia, marriage and kids: now she's a bitter divorcée doing the variety circuit and smothering the life out of her dutiful son Tim (Khan Chittenden) and his tentative romance with Jill (Emma Booth).

Keith Thompson's script is sometimes acute on the sadness of showbiz has-beens and never-weres, though how much sympathy he wants to secure for Blethyn is doubtful. Listening to her "naughty" stand-up patter I have a horrible feeling we're meant to find it funny – whereas it's actually excruciating. Her pathetic vanity ("I have a website in Bristol") prompts the odd chuckle, but Blethyn's performance suggests this larger-than-life character is also irresistible. You may find yourself resisting all the same.

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