“I got us some chocolate body paint…we ended up having it on toast”
Just a quickie(ish) for this as a dicky tummy meant I had to leave at the interval but I wanted to make mention of the cast in case any of them end up super-famous. Tom Wells has quickly rocketed up the list of must-see playwrights in recent years, something kickstarted largely by the 2011 success of The Kitchen Sink (although Me As A Penguin was the first time I dipped in the Wells), and so it is little surprise to see drama schools like LAMDA getting in on the act. This production of The Kitchen Sink forms part of their showcase this year and in lieu of new Wells work, a trip down the Talgarth Road was organised.
And whilst I wish I could say I liked it, the first half never really managed to grab me. Stephen Unwin’s production here lacked the vital spark that brought Tamara Harvey’s for the Bush to such vivid life, plodding along a little too much rather than surfing the ripples and waves of everyday living. The subtleties of Wells’ writing and his inimitable voice of extraordinary ordinariness failed to really shine through here – although his observational gifts means there’s many a one-liner that lives in the memory, ripped jeans, couscous, Dolly Parton’s nipples…nothing is safe but crucially, everything feels authentic.
Which is where one could really feel the difference in the cast of five. Although unable to really capture the depth of the mother-son bond at the heart of the play with everyone being of a similar age, Clio Davies nevertheless caught the weary practicality of dinnerlady Kath just right, the well-worn contours of her marriage to Sandy Murray’s outdated milkman Martin well observed and certainly convincing. David Moorst’s Billy, the son who has a pass to get out of Dodge (well, Withernsea) but not necessarily the courage, plays up the campness of his wannabe art student a little too much though, not anchoring him sufficiently in real life.
Celeste Dodwell’s martial arts-crazy daughter Sophie feels a little misjudged in her choices, her angst didn’t cut sharply enough to make us believe and Simon Robinson (whose main crime is not being Andy Rush) as Pete, the plumber who would soothe her angry brow, felt oddly borderline sociopathic. But at the same time, one has to recognise the embryonic nature of the acting here, these comments are genuinely meant constructively and I look forward to seeing some, if not all, of them again in the future.