first night

The Kitchen Sink

Joe Kelen loves a trip to Durham's Indoor Market for 'The Kitchen Sink'


Kitchen Sink, based in contemporary times, is a play set in the kitchen/dining room of a working class family from Withernsea in Yorkshire, and their slowly disintegrating aspirations. Pieces are falling off Martin's milk float and something's up with Kath's kitchen sink. Billy pines his hopes of a place at art college on a revealing portrait of Dolly Parton, whilst Sophie's dreams of becoming a Jiu-Jitsu teacher seem hang in the balance.

To reach the stage, the audience must walk through the indoor market, surrounded by boarded up stalls and the background hum of industrial fridges, we are surrounded by these tokens of a bygone era as dated as Martin (the fathers) milk float. Set in the cafe on the first floor, Dominic Williamss production makes excellent use of the natural blue light flooding in from the large, surrounding windows, which matched the blues and greys of the objects onstage. At points wonderful, other times hilarious, and yet consistently moving, it was often hard to find fault with the productions portrayal of working class life.

The interaction between the characters felt more real than most Made in Chelsea episodes, to whose credit must go to the excellence of the cast. Of note were the fights between Sophie and Pete, her sort-of boyfriend, played so well by Emilie Aspeling and Rob Collins, showing the jarring notes of tension found in everyday life. Rob Collins in particular stood out during these scenes, fully encapsulating the nervous twitches of Pete. In many regards however, the night was Olivia Races. Whilst for others on stage you can feel a glint in the eye of an actor separated from their character, simply expressing rehearsed lines, Olivia was exceptional. Effortlessly embodying her role as the mother Kath, her performance was a sweeping example of how good drama can be when an actor gets her character. Her interactions whenever she was onstage helped elevate the potentially banal dialogue to one which was vivid, and absorbing. So too should mention be made to Dom McGovern, who made Billy his own. Holding one of the most memorable speeches of the night, a quiet attack on the elitism of the modern art world, Dom played Billy with a shyness which made him relatable to anyone whose stared at a potentially fraught career in the arts.

The only fault in an otherwise beautiful night was sadly out of the casts control, and forewarned by the Director at the start of the play. The industrial fridges, however atmospheric, sometimes drowned out the incredible dialogue onstage. Whilst it is a commendable nod to Naturalism to make the actors speak at their normal volume, which is actually a strength of the play when the coolers are not on, it does mean that important parts of monologues or interactions were missed. Whilst not fully overshadowing the production, it is still needs to be better addressed.

In this period of summer Shakespeare and abstract, absurdist plays, watching Kitchen Sink was refreshing. Kitchen Sink shows the best of what Durham Student Theatre can provide, and flaunts the lack of socially realistic plays visible in Durham. Well directed and well cast, the play is absorbing, and cherishable, like eating a dense chocolate brownie. With standout performances by Olivia Race and Rob Collins, the production was one of the best student shows Ive seen onstage, and undoubtably worth a watch.

18 June 2015

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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