A Family Business, Tobacco Factory Review

Chris Thorpe’s highly emotive play, A Family Business, addresses the global issue of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to conflict or a terrible danger to all countries. Discussions take place behind closed doors of embassies, universities, the corridors of government and the shabby back rooms of the activist, but mostly away from the public eye. Part lecture and part theatre, this is very cleverly done; Chris began with a casual chat with the audience, asking us about Bristol, our favourite places, what we did do to socialise, which buildings we loved, so when he showed us the terrible devastation of nuclear explosions in countries so very far from us, it was an illustration that this could happen right here in your own home town. The stage was a spaghetti of red and yellow cabling attached to hundreds of plugs, any of which could be the famous ‘red button’.

Powerfully put together, there were plenty of facts and figures that I certainly didn’t know and without an in-depth study of geopolitical mapping you probably wouldn’t find out. The three performers who take the roles of those involved in the TPNW (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons), Greg Barnett, Efé Agwele and Andrea Quirbach, were great, portraying the relatively ordinary people who get to make extraordinary decisions on behalf of massive swathes of the world’s population without them ever being aware of it.

As a theatre piece it’s created to entertain but also shock and educate; the subject of nuclear weapons has gone to ground since the 1950s and 1960s when it was routinely demonstrated against (I took part in a CND march way back then but didn’t really understand the cause, it was more that I wanted to follow the coolest boy in the school!) and should be brought to the fore again. The play demonstrated the ease with which a globally fatal use of these weapons could come about, and the decision rests with us all to make sure that never happens.

We really enjoyed this serious and thought-provoking drama which succeeds on all levels.

Jacquie Vowles

Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Rd, Bristol, BS3 1TF


  • Efè Agwele
    February 14, 2024 at 11:03 am

    Hi Team, such a lovely review! Just a note to say my name is spelt Agwele not Agwale x

    • whatsonbristol
      February 15, 2024 at 9:48 am

      Hi Efé, Thank you for your feedback. Our apologies for the spelling of your name. this has now been corrected on the review.

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