As the Shaw sons gather to celebrate their parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary, the tensions of their family history come to the surface. Their father, who’s spent his life on his back down the mines, has always been proud of the grammar school and university education he provided for his sons. Now, however, he sees that education betraying the very work ethic he hoped to instil in them, as his working-class sons become middle-class professionals.
‘Iconoclastic’ Andrew, the eldest, has packed in his job as a successful lawyer in order to concentrate on his painting; Colin invests in the motor industry; silent Steven, the child prodigy, has given up on his novel and entered the teaching profession.
As the Shaw sons question their mother’s insistence on moral rectitude and strict hygiene, they shed light on the saintly memory of their deceased fourth brother, and the consequences of his life and death on their upbringing.
A provocative response to the impact of warfare and poverty on working-class family life over the course of the mid-twentieth century, In Celebration was first produced at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1969.