SOMETIMES the deceptively simple things can be the most effective.

That's certainly the case with Light Falls, a beautifully-observed study of family, love and life in the north which marks the final collaboration of playwright Simon Stephens and Sarah Frankom, the Exchange's outgoing artistic director.

There is something wonderfully understated yet powerful about this production making it the perfect send off for Sarah.

For Stephens, Light Falls is an unashamed love letter to the north, its people and its flaws.

The story of one family, he concentrates on the issues which separate them and the ties which bring keep together.

Their issues may have been slightly exaggerated for theatrical effect; husband Bernard's long-awaited threesome in a Doncaster hotel could be seen as being a little far-fetched, but at its heart Light Falls is an honest and understanding look at the tensions and the tribulations faced by many a family.

Alcoholic mum Christine pays the ultimate price for her addiction, daughter Jess is struggling to commit to a relationship preferring a string of meaningless one-night stands; other daughter Ashe is barely able to cope with a baby and a junkie boyfriend, and gay son Andy is finding it difficult to fit in to university life.

After a first half in which the family appears to be falling apart in disparate centres across the north, one tragic incident brings them closer.

Stephens clearly believes in the power of family ties and is optimistic that no matter how dark things may get, there is always a chance for the light to find a way through.

This is a production which will subtly work its way into your head and get you to consider the issues it raises. As you leave the theatre the haunting refrain of Jarvis Cocker's especially composed Hymn for the North which runs through the production will provide a soundtrack for your journey home.

It's a fitting farewell to a director who allows her actors to paint the pictures through excellently observed dialogue.