The play's eight scenes jump roughly two years forward each time, and we see Racheal charge determinedly through a life that seems destined to be a prison: Her mother soon deserts them, her beloved grandfather dies, her hopes of a flat of her own get quashed, her younger brother Billy (Mike Noble) develops a fondness for shoplifting and despite striking up a teenage relationship with the sweet Danny (Calum Callaghan) who seems like the perfect match for her, by the eve of the new millennium Racheal is married to the abusive Kevin, a man so like her father he's also played by Deam.
Callaghan and Jack Deam are also the only actors to avoid a trap of the earlier scenes in the play, that sees the performances get much broader than they need to be. It's an occasional risk when adults play children, that they overdo the childishness, something that even the usually excellent O'Flynn is guilty of at first, even until the characters are 15 - it's only the arrival of Callaghan's more naturalistic Danny that calms the performances down. A cartoonishness even infects the actors not playing children: Ian compared Liz White's turn as the deaf grandmother to the "Two Soups" sketch.
Port by Simon Stephens is booking in repertory until the 24th of March at the National Theatre's Lyttelton.
Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes including interval.