Six Degrees of Separation in “Kin”
At the Theatre with Audrey Linden
Playwright Bathsheba Doran’s drama, ”Kin” is a stunningly beautiful play about the complexity of relationships. Theatre 40 brings audiences the West Coast Premiere of “Kin.” Jules Aaron’s direction moved the play seamlessly and effortlessly from character to character and from the United States to Ireland. His direction was like an elegant game of chess. There was a “six degrees of separation” quality to the story and characters as they intertwined and crossed into each other’s lives. Her play was intricately knitted and engaged the audience. It was full of emotion, insight and had a touch of humor though I would not bill it as a comedy. I was captivated by the story, the direction and the strong acting of the nine member ensemble.
Doran gives us the complex relationship of the daughter, Anna, an adjunct professor of English Lit. at Columbia University and her military father, Colonel Adam. Melissa Collins’ Anna carried much of this finely wrought play, and Collins did a superb job as her character went from being neutral in the opening through to a nice arc. David Hunt Stafford, whose work I have followed, did a fine job as the absent military father, who is desperately trying to connect with his daughter and undo the damage of having had to put his military career first. They have their problems to resolve, and there are secrets which surface and threaten to unravel any semblance of a father-daughter relationship.
Jeff G. Rack’s simple, modern set, with benches that the actors pulled out as they did their scenes which were like well-lit vignettes, worked to maintain a fluid simplicity through the emotional complexity of the play. Bill Froggatt’s sound effects heightened the reality.
Anna interactes with her close friend, Helena, a strange character who understands Anna and gets beneath her skin. They are such different characters. Anna is well-educated and publishing a tome on Keats’ Punctuation, while Helena has a menial job as she pursues an acting career. Elizabeth Lande’s Helena is the leveler. Her emotional digging gets to Anna. As the layers delicately unpeel, Helena also gets undone in the process.
Anna, takes up with Sean, a young man on the rebound from Ireland. Grinnell Morris brought heart and soul to his character and did not miss a beat with his Irish accent. As a physical trainer, he is hardly what Match.Com would have picked for Anna, but the two find they have much in common.
While Anna sees her father as cold and remote, Stafford infused his Adam with strong emotions as he struggled to be the father his daughter wants him to be. He has bridges to build to reach Anna. But, we saw his loving side in his relationship with his lover and friend, Kay, so well-acted by the beautiful Luise Heath. She is his conscience. It was hard for me to believe she was indeed dying of cancer. Her Kay had too much love and life in her. She did not look like she was dying.
Linda, Sean’s agoraphobic mother in Ireland, had a tragic happening which we don’t learn about until the play reaches its arc. Each character underwent a transformation and had an individual arc and the play itself built upon those arcs to a climax and a meaningful conclusion . Rhonda Lord, was convincing as the boozy, alcoholic woman who could not leave her house. Whatever happened to her in the mist of the heather one night, stunted her. She could not overcome what had happened that dark night. No amount of therapy brought her peace or out into the world again until…….
The one thing that bothered me in the story was the mystery with which Doran treated Linda’s past. There was too much of a supernatural explanation going on about the “beast on the heather” and “that night”. It was unclear and confusing.
Linda’s brother, Max, brought to life by John Combs, with an impeccable Irish accent that Combs sustained, was the protector. His character alone was uncomplicated. He was the buffer to Linda. There is a nice cameo performance by Alan Aymie.
An audience member quipped about feeling like she was in a mental institute, and yes, almost everyone had an emotional issue to work through. And, it was a cathartic and a collective healing that finally brought a satisfying, though somewhat unbelievable ending. Real life does not always work that neatly with conflicts resolved and wrapped up. Still, “Kin” made for a very enjoyable and entertaining evening.
“Kin” runs through October 26th at the Reuben Cordova Theatre at 241 S. Moreno Dr. in Beverly Hills, 90212. The theatre is located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. There is ample free parking in the structure. Tickets are $24.00 Thursday and Friday and $26.00 Saturday and Sunday. For reservations, call 310-364-0535 or go on line to www. Theatre40.org
Audrey Linden is a writer, actress and singer. She can be seen in a long-running “Associated Tax Resolution” commercial, two “Little Caesars” spots, a “Teva International Pharmaceutical” short, Gene Simmons’ “Family Jewels,” “America’s Court with Judge Ross,” VHS “Tough Love 2,” “Wendy’s” etc.
Audrey teaches ON CAMERA COMMERCIAL and IMPROV COMEDY WORKSHOPS through the City of Beverly Hills. To register, call 310-285-6850. Her classes are held at 241 Moreno Dr. B.H. 90212. Her next classes start in January with registration in December. For more information, contact Audrey at firstname.lastname@example.org