I went with Richard to the Royal Court tonight, his first time at that theatre and apparently when he told his mum he was going there, she told him whatever he saw was bound to be controversial. Well, E.V. Crowe's Kin does deal with the subject of children's sexuality, a topic many people are uncomfortable even acknowledging. Unfortunately as with most of the subjects in the play this is skirted around in a very vague, unsatisfying way. Set in a girls' boarding school in the 1990s, the play is mainly notable for how heavily it depends on very young actresses. 10-year-olds Janey (Mimi Keene or Madison Lygo - unfortunately the RC doesn't, like some theatres do, put posters up telling the audience which of the alternates is performing each night) and Mimi (Maya Gerber or Ciara Southwood) are roommates. A third girl, Nina (Fern Deacon or Ellen Hill) is being bullied by them. But is Janey also bullying Mimi though, or is their relationship more complicated than that? The adult actors (including Annette Badland aka Blon Fel Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen from Doctor Who, and Ollie Barbieri from Skins) barely get a look-in. Young or old, the actors do a great job and there's a lot of funny lines and clever sequences but as a whole the piece doesn't gel. Notably the fact that the scenes are presented out of sequence, something that occasionally works but for the most part barely comes across properly, for which director Jeremy Herrin should probably take much of the blame. The play's intention is surely to leave us with more questions than answers but instead it just feels as if nobody's quite decided what it's meant to be about.
Kin by E.V. Crowe is booking until the 23rd of December at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs.