Two Kittens & A Kid (A Gay Man Raising His Inner Diva)

Fri 5th – Sat 20th August 2016

reviews

Olivia Cormack

at 18:11 on 18th Aug 2016

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The theatre company that produces ‘Two Kittens and a Kid’ is called Beyond Boundaries, and let me tell you that by the end of the show Christopher Wilson has taken us so far into the realm of taboo that you can't see the boundaries in the rear view mirror. Wilson’s charisma and sass can get even British stiff upper lips to crack a smile. And from the first song, the audience is enthralled.

In this uplifting and fearless one-man musical, Wilson is not afraid to tackle anything and everything about the ins and outs of being a gay white man with a black daughter. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always dramatic, this show is a touching portrait of the ways in which parenthood and family life shape not only children but parents as well. Watching the performance, I gain a new appreciation for the lengths parents go to for their kids (and how annoying I must have been as a teenager).

The performance is polished and Wilson certainly knows how to command the attention of an audience. The energy remains high for the duration of the show and the pace moves along nicely without feeling rushed. The simple staging is appropriate for the anecdotal structure of the show, and the image of his daughter on the simple banner behind his chair is a touching way to bring her into the performance whilst also highlighting her absence.

At moments the performance can feel a little too polished, and verges on becoming stiff and insincere. I think this may be a result of over-rehearsal and could easily be improved by allowing a little room in the show for spontaneity. The songs and the script are generally well-written, although at times some phrases definitely teeter on the brink of cliché.

This is an ideal show for anyone with a penchant for the theatrical or for anyone who is sick of hearing people tiptoe around issues of race, sexuality, and gender. Although there is room for improvement Wilson has created an impressive, enjoyable, and accomplished show which will leave you with a smile on your face.

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Becky Wilson

at 23:50 on 18th Aug 2016

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I am ambivalent about ‘Two Kittens and A Kid’. The Canadian Christopher Wilson’s cabaret is too sickly sweet for my cynical English palette, but the man is undoubtedly a fantastic performer. Describing the experiences of his adopted black daughter, Wilson touches upon the important issues of race and mental health, but I wonder whether an hour-long cabaret show is the right place or time.

Wilson’s show constantly teeters on the boundaries of acceptability. He uses cutesy phrases like “my little person hopped on the crazy bus”, to describe his daughter’s far from cute battles with depression and drugs. Moreover, there seems something at least mildly problematic about a white middle-class (albeit gay) man explaining black hair and skincare to a completely white audience. Indeed, at one point he even performs a short, bizarrely cheerful song about the history of the ‘N’ word. These topics are interesting, and Wilson handles them in what seems to be a predominantly sensitive manner, but why is he the one exploring them? One feels throughout that his daughter should be substituted in his place, to speak for herself. A banner depicting an illustration of his daughter hangs over the sparse set: this girl’s absence is so powerful, it’s almost a presence in itself.

Behind the smiles and jazz hands, there is something painfully sad about Wilson’s autobiographical show, which concludes with the revelation that his daughter has left him. It is at these quieter, contemplative moments that Wilson really delivers. His singing voice has an impressive range, and he navigates both the exposed high notes and tricky lower numbers with ease. There is evidently a raw emotional undercurrent to the performance, even if Wilson’s musical theatre mannerisms have the tendency to obscure it.

On the other hand, Wilson’s writing is often quite funny. A highlight is his bluesy song which charts the identifiable moment he first came home to find his daughter alone with a boy. Wilson’s dancing here is subtle and amusing, gracefully depicting his subdued alarm, and fury, at the boy making eyes at his daughter.

One final qualm about this show is its subtitle: ‘a gay man raising his inner diva’. This strikes me as false advertising - if you’re seeking a flamboyant show about gay self-discovery, this is not what you’re looking for. Instead, Wilson presents a sweet, sad and occasionally funny one-man musical about a deeply missed daughter.

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