By Laura Kressly
Sarah and Lilly haven’t seen each other in 20 years. They’re now awkwardly navigating each other in their father’s kitchen somewhere in rural America. As they wait for their dad to die, the sisters comb through their pasts in the hope of finding out where everything went wrong. But with two very different sets of memories, is it possible to forgive?
Sarah’s a single, high-flying city worker in London and Lilly is a housewife and mum in Stroud. Their dad left their mum when they were young, which served as a catalyst to fracture the family. As such, their feelings about their father are charged and complicated, like they are towards each other. This narrative foundation effectively foregrounds tension between the two women, though as the story approaches its climax, it suddenly stalls. Momentum is lost and the ending sputters out without much of a resolution
The performances are good, and the focus on middle-aged women is commendable. It’s a rare sight on the fringe. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of conversation about marriage and children, and domesticity is given too much of a focus when the fundamental differences between these women lie in their conflicting values. There’s so much more to these women’s lives than husbands and offspring – or lack of them – that make for much more interesting conversation. I do wonder if a woman writing the same story would have taken the same angle.
The naturalistic play has a strong premise and it captures uncomfortable truths about families, but a few shortcomings prevent it from a truly searing commentary.
Kin runs through 26 August.
The Play’s the Thing UK is committed to covering fringe and progressive theatre in London and beyond. It is run entirely voluntarily and needs regular support to ensure its survival. For more information and to help The Play’s the Thing UK provide coverage of the theatre that needs reviews the most, visit its patreon.