Review by Tulis McCall
(22 Mar 2011)
Well THIS was an unexpected pleasure.
Kin is one of those little gems that grows on you. It is laid out like a self-guided tour through a forest with small signposts along the way. There is never a “You Are Here” overview, however, so you don’t appreciate the whole deal until you arrive at the end, which also happens to be the beginning.
If you have every folded ingredients together in a mixing bowl you know that you keep doing the same motion with your spoon and it’s the bowl that you turn, not the mixture in the bowl. With Kin it is the world that turns while the connections of these characters increases exponentially.
Anna (Kristen Bush ) has just been dumped by her professor Simon (Matthew Rauch) and in the next moment is helping her best friend Helena (Laura Heisler) bury her dog in Central Park. They discuss Anna’s mother’s death ten years earlier and how her father Adam (Cotter Smith) reacted. Anna says “My Dad was so crippled with grief at the graveside and all I could think was that the way he was crying made me want to fall in love.” Wham bam – now that’s a seque! And it is one of many that populate this play with honesty and grace.
Anna falls in love with Sean (Patch Darragh) whose work here outshines his work in Glass Menagerie by a mile or two. Sean is from Ireland, and back there is his mother, Linda (Suzanne Bertish) and her brother Max (Bill Buell). On this side of the pond we have Anna and Helena, Anna’s father, his lover Kay (Kit Flanagan), and Sean’s old girlfriend Rachel (Molly Ward). And one way or another, Bathsheba Doran connects these lives.
Some of the characters meet one another and others don’t. The strands of connection all come home to roost in the relationship between Sean and Anna that at times seems less about themselves than it does about all the people who are present in their lives, their memories and their gene pool. And because each of these characters is etched with precision, humor and vulnerability are equally present in all of them. Rape, suicide and cancer share the bill with deep love, hope and commitment. Oh yeah, and a lot of laughs. Now that is a piece of fancy footwork.
Doran comes at you indirectly. She never clobbers you over the head, but chooses to let her characters reveal themselves slowly, dropping bits of emotional protection as they go until they, and we are left expose to the elements and holding on to one another. Not clinging out of fear, but holding on out of choice. Doran’s characters choose to be kin. Friends, lovers and family all make the active choice to connect, and as they go, so do we.
What the popular press said...
"Perhaps the finest new play of the season to date."
Charles Isherwood for NY Times
"This one is guaranteed to make you misty."
Joe Dziemianowicz for NY Daily News
"Terrific new play."
Jeremy Gerard for Bloomberg
"Simultaneously funny and moving."
David Sheward for Back Stage
"Slick but utterly trivial dramedy."
Marilyn Stasio for Variety