Kidding

Mon 5th – Wed 14th August 2019

reviews

Ed Strang

at 12:55 on 6th Aug 2018

1agrees

0disagrees

This is it right here. This is the one. Cancel the Fringe, we’ve found the meaning of theatre. We may even have found the meaning of life - I’m not kidding.

‘Kidding’ stages and reimagines the real-life verbatim stories of a number of interviews, staged by the production company Sounds Like Thunder. The result is a show that is heart-warming, harrowing, and hilarious, tied together by slick direction and clever production. The opening scene entails three of the four actors crawling around the stage as infants, regaling a story told by twenty-somethings of their first memory. The decision to remove the story from the speaker and transfigure it is a genius move, proving the adaptability of the anecdotes as well as the versatility of the cast.

It is impossible to fault this production. The performance from each and every actor is irreproachable, from Stevens’ hilarious comic turn in the overly sexualised retelling of a man who used to keep daddy longlegs to Chakravati’s powerhouse turn as a mother recounting the difficulties of birthing a child with possible hereditary defects. The haunting line “mum didn’t want me to buy anything” casts aside the suspension of disbelief, wrenching the audience back to the brutal reality of the words they are hearing.

Before the production started the audience were also asked to fill out a slip that began either ‘I want to thank my mum for…’ or ‘I admire my mum because…’ A selection of these answers were read out at random in a piece half-way through the show. As well as drawing the audience into conjunction with the production, it proved once more the very real, true and, well, normal stories; just because these stories are ‘normal’, that is, un-dramatised, that does not make them any less moving.

The versatility of the cast is matched in brilliance by the imaginative use of props - an old desk telephone, for example, becomes a pelvic ultrasound wand. The normalcy of folding sheets naturalises the conversation between a grandmother and grandchild, and a new-mum’s fitness class is hilariously reimagined with an ever-increasing tempo as the conversation changes from how much they love their children to the problems that arise from them. Voiceovers from the real interviews break down the fourth wall as the boundaries between actor, audience, producer, and interviewee meld together to create a show that is never quite fiction and never quite fact.

It is, in short, flawless. It is everything an amateur production should be: sparsely staged, original, funny, and clever; it tugs on the heartstrings and knocks on the funny bone; it is desperately raw, refreshingly creative, and so much more than it sets itself out to be. If you enjoy laughing, or crying, or emoting in any capacity, go to this play: I would sell my firstborn child to see it again.

agree
disagree

Ella Gryf-Lowczowska

at 12:56 on 6th Aug 2018

1agrees

0disagrees

What do you admire about your mum? What do you want to thank your mum for?

I want to thank my mum for raising me to be a strong and independent young woman, by supporting me through absolutely everything.

Well, my mum wasn’t there to support the pint of cider that I spilled as I scribbled my thanks onto the slip of paper that the producer had handed to me, but my answer was genuine: my mum has my back through thick and thin and everything in between. Getting the audience to answer these two questions before the performance began set the tone of ‘Kidding’, which is an ode to mothers and parenting. It also set the type, because Sounds Like Thunder Theatre have been asking everyone from grandparents to schoolkids the very same questions, and it is through their verbatim stories that the four cast members expose the parent/child relationship in all its glory, hilarity and tenderness.

The opening scene sees Emma Hemingford play granddaughter to Florence Brady, whose acting was so convincing that at one point I actually questioned whether it was my own grandmother in front of me, living a double-life as a Fringe actress. Brady recounts her experiences of running away from home with her boo and then raising her children alone as the pair pack clothes, broaches and film photos in large cardboard boxes; clearly something tragic has transpired. This sketch runs intermittently throughout the play, interposed with some outrageously funny sketches about what parenting and grandparenting really involves. The twist? Well, the stories may be verbatim, but they are delivered rather unconventionally… my personal favourite being the highly eroticised account of a young boy who transformed his mother’s greenhouse into a breeding ground for daddy-long-legs.

Kidding is faultless. I am awarding it ten stars, even though the maximum I am allowed to award is five. I am confident that I will not see another play quite as brilliant as this one, and I invite anyone to challenge me to the contrary. Everything from the casting down to the slick retro flyer is impeccable, and the venue is perfect. ZOO Southside, a thrust theatre, boasts a delightful little terrace bar where the creative masterminds behind Kidding mingled with us beforehand (no frazzled producers or stressed-out directors here!). Sitting in horseshoe made it impossible not to notice the wild guffaws and the reminiscent smiles that possessed the other audience members throughout the performance. I kid you not, this is the best play at the Fringe.

agree
disagree

Audience Avg.

0 votes, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a