Kindred

Fri 2nd – Sat 10th August 2013

reviews

James Cetkovski

at 09:45 on 3rd Aug 2013

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Kindred holds the attention with force and persistence, which is rare for a work of experimental theatre. A kind of Beckettian drama of objects whose aim is high and, for the most part, true, the show consists of the contorted, twisting, groaning, screeching nonverbal communication of three characters, #1 (Charlie Venables), #2 (Jake Pochin) and #3 (Liam Walsh). From its beginning moments, in which the "beings" emerge from cardboard boxes as if from eggs, moaning, quivering, shaking, clad in identical white jumpsuits, it’s clear that Kindred wants to transcend the particular and delve into the essential, to speak with a silent language of the universal.

Its beginning moments, however, are not its strongest. Maybe it’s the influence of CGI-ed up to the hilt films like Prometheus but the physicality of the actors didn’t meet today’s standard for the movement of newly emergent beings from primordial slime (think of Gollum), which was the way I couldn’t help thinking of them. Ditto their first forays into cooperation, in which the three utter newcomers to the world learn to negotiate the complexities of Mars bar wrappers and Lucozade bottles with improbable and unconvincing speed. Happily, though, these somewhat hesitant first steps quickly give way to wonderful set pieces into which the actors compress extraordinary humor and pathos. Example: music plays, and #3 gazes down in astonishment at his right foot, which has begun to tap involuntarily. He points at it ecstatically, again and again. #1 cries out in delight as his own foot begins to tap. #2 scowls and points down at his own foot, willing it to move, but it remains immobile. He points again; again nothing. Eventually he bends over and starts striking his foot in frustration, then lashes out with a yell at #3, who has let his still-tapping foot wander mockingly close. A transcendently moving and witty expression of what it means to appreciate music for the first time.

Kindred has a narrative, though I think I’d have to watch it again before I’d be able to supply a detailed summary. Characters discover sex, fall in love (mannequins and balloons represent romantic interests), and experience loss. They also use language, at a late stage, and I’m not sure this is a wise choice—I expect that the uncanny poignancy of the communication would have been heightened if it had remained entirely nonverbal.

Walsh, playing the runtish and feminised #3, is simply tremendous, though this isn’t to take anything from the definite substantiality of Venables’ and Pochin’s gifts. I wonder, a bit, if the marvelous moments of pathos the three consistently achieve owe a bit too much to the production’s well-chosen if rather emotional soundtrack, but in the end I’ve decided that I enjoyed these moments so much it simply doesn’t matter.

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Costanza Bertoni

at 10:13 on 3rd Aug 2013

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Three boys, two colours, one hour, no dialogue. Heads or Tails Theatre Company have brought something a bit new to the Fringe. Although it is a piece of experimental theatre, something that admittedly is not appealing to everyone, the themes of the show: family, relationships and growing up, are things that are akin to everyone’s daily experience.

House lights off, stage lights on, we were presented with a rather alternative image. A splattering of cardboard boxes, tin bins, and an easel, the production began in a way that was rather out-of-the-box. The stars of the show? The tormented trio of Jake Pochin, Charlie Venables and Liam Walsh, acting as three brothers that suffered a bereavement in their family. An extremely focused and talented cast, who devised and brought together this piece, really need to be commended for both their incredibly energetic performance and creative ability.

From wobbling in the womb, to their first adolescent experiences, we follow the boys through their life stages, snapshotting the peaks and troughs of what life presents them; discovering food, dreary school days, and first love. Entirely lacking in dialogue, the show communicated much more than an a written script would have been able to explain. Taking such universal themes enabled the audience to follow the action on stage, but also appreciate the physical and alternative spin that they applied to them.

The smooth and surprisingly uncluttered visual presentation, despite the array of props, went hand in hand with the excellent use of sound. The burble and gurgle of the actors meant that speech was no distraction from the sleek progression of action on stage, and the choice of music was faultlessly atmospheric, and pleasant for the scenes and moments chosen. A feast for the senses, it made me feel the need to capture each choreographed moment, camera and Shazam at hand.

Due to the vast amount of choice at the Fringe, I feel that shows like this one are often overlooked. Don’t make the same mistake. Something a little different, but that requires no degree to understand and follow, only one in life experience. So, life’s best and worst condensed in an hour, with no words and three people. How do they do it? Go and see it, and live it.

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