A gay couple grapple with the idea of having a baby in this comedy by Chris Thompson
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 in the pristine flat of Daniel (James Lance) and Oliver (Joshua Silver), more showroom than family home (James Perkins’s 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 brushstrokes. 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 to reveal their acting chops. Following a messy trial, Daniel and Oliver 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.