'Of Kith and Kin' review or 'This play is growing on me.'
'Of Kith and Kin', Chris Thompson
Bush Theatre, 19th October 2017
Written for Time Out
It's natural to have doubts when it comes to parenting. Chris Thompson’s new play, ‘Of Kith and Kin', explores the mushrooming impact these doubts have on a gay male couple preparing for parenthood. It also addresses hereditary violence, gay marriage and the root meaning of the word ‘parent’. It's a bit of a muddle – but it's a worthwhile muddle and the central relationship is knotty and moving.
The action kicks off at Daniel and Oliver's pristine flat, more show-room than family home (James Perkins design is all crisp colours and clean lines.) Husband and husband are throwing a baby shower for their old friend Priya (Chetna Pandya), surrogate mother to their child. But then Daniel's mother turns up, things get ugly, and relationships fracture.
Director Robert Hastie paints the opening act with heavy brush strokes. The humour is crude, the acting is broad and nothing feels real. When a trial suddenly emerges – the characters at loggerheads – it's hard to care. It feels like a cop-out: a chance to ask difficult questions of characters we barely know.
The writing tightens and deepens in the second half and the actors get a chance toreveal their acting chops. Following a messy trial, Daniel (James Lance) and Oliver (Joshua Silver) face an uncertain future. Oliver just wants to enjoy being married. But Daniel, ten years older, struggles to embrace an institution that has shut him out for so long. The two find themselves trapped on either side of the generation divide, both fighting for the right to choose – but unable to choose each other.