Review: Of Kith and Kin is a stimulating experience

Joshua Silver and James Lance in Of Kith and Kin. Photo by Mark Douet.
Joshua Silver and James Lance in Of Kith and Kin. Photo by Mark Douet.

A co-production between Sheffield Theatres and the Bush in London has opened at the Crucible Studio Theatre.

Written by ex-social worker, Chris Thompson, and directed by Robert Hastie, it’s a sharp, funny, thoughtful play about a whole range of contemporary issues.

A gay couple, Daniel and Oliver, who have a middle-class life style, plan to have a baby with their friend Priya acting as a surrogate.

From the opening moments, James Lance, Joshua Silver and Chetna Pandya establish the authenticity of their characters. The tone is light, but

becomes increasingly fraught with the arrival of Daniel’s nosey but formidable working-class mum, played by Joanna Bacon. Ambivalent and disturbing feelings surface as the coupleanticipate parenthood. One crucial issue is the age difference between Daniel and Oliver, the former having experienced a time when gay relationships were conducted in a more clandestine atmosphere, the latter taking for granted the entitlements of a younger generation. In the end that takes a toll on them both.

Many other issues are touched on: gay marriage, casual sex, the complications of surrogacy, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, delinquency, drugs, the nature of choice and so on.

The second of the three acts focuses on legal issues, with Donna Berlin playing a droll but sympathetic magistrate.

Has the playwright tried to pack in too much? I suspect that audiences will have mixed responses to that question. But it still makes for an enjoyable and stimulating experience.

The fact that the cast reflect a multi-ethnic society is an additional strength.

Kith and Kin is on until Saturday, October 7.