Tuesday, May 28

Kindred – Brockley Jack

This new play by Amee Walker-Reid is a journey through one tumultuous week in the lives of a young couple, Lois and Matt, as they look forward to their wedding at the end of the week.  As the play starts, they have just returned from Matt’s father’s funeral, which was a disturbing event due to the ongoing animosities within his family. During the week, they also have to attend Lois’s sister’s divorce party. This would be enough for most stable couples to cope with, but Matt suffers from a fairly severe psychotic illness which he is struggling to manage, and Lois is reaching the end of her tether trying to help and support him.

Thus, this is a fairly angst laden 60 minutes of theatre. There was a lot of swearing, shouting and some physical violence, with just moments of tenderness showing through, particularly from Amee Walker- Reid who played the role of Lois. Helpfully a tear off calendar was used to show us the progression of days through the week, with a few flashbacks to a number of New Year’s Eves. Unfortunately, those scenes were rather too brief to enable us to fully understand the background to their relationship and what brought them together in the first place. Without this it was difficult to feel much empathy for either of the characters.

The setting was white, depicting the couples sparsely furnished flat.  Various domestic items such as kitchen utensils, wastepaper baskets, a computer screen and bits of furniture were hung at strange angles from the ceiling. I am not sure what the set designer Tamra Walker-Reid intended to depict by this, possibly an allegory for the dysfunctional lives of the couple themselves.  Some back projection was used to depict news, and old home video and waves which represented the depression into which Matt, played by Finlay Vane Last, described himself falling into. Grace Gjertson’s sound design also consisted of quite a lot of strange repetitive noises, some of which were quite uncomfortable to listen to, again representing dysfunctionality.

The two actors did a very good job with strong fluid performances, but overall, I felt that the play did not do much to help understand mental illness and was a rather unsubtle depiction of a relationship in crisis. Since there is not much of a plot, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the couple do make it to the morning of their wedding day, although without much hope that their married life would be happy.

Playing until 20th January, https://brockleyjack.co.uk/jackstudio-entry/kindred/

Reviewer: Paul Ackroyd

Reviewed: 18th January 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.