Kin at Playwright Horizons

by Leying Zhang on August 29, 2011

in Teen Reviews,Theater,TRaC

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Patch Darragh and Kristen Bush in "Kin". Photo Credit: Sara Krulwich.

Kin is a show at Playwrights Horizons directed by Sam Gold that investigates the complex relationship between two families by exploring various psychological, emotional, diverse and modern aspects of each character.

Each character in the play is fascinating in his or her own way. It starts off with a breakup between two lovers, Anna and Max, in a hilarious manner. The protagonist, Anna, is a writer who goes to Columbia University. Anna’s mother passes away when she is little, and she never establishes a close bond with her father Adam, a colonel in the military. This background has made Anna a very independent girl. In contrast, Anna’s best friend Linda is an enthusiastic person who has always been there for her. Linda’s off-kilter personality and her vulnerability serve as comic relief. Sean, Anna’s boyfriend, is a more complicated character. He is indecisive and never knows what he really wants. His mixed feelings for Anna and his ex-girlfriend, Rachel, is probably influenced by his mother, Helena, who lives in her unpleasant past.

Conflicts between the two generations are revealed: Anna resents Adam for being  cold and like a “stone” to her mother. Adam is much closer to his lover, Kay, who is dying from cancer. Helena is able to slowly open herself up to Anna when she visits her in Ireland. Adam’s visiting is significant because it symbolizes the combining of the two families. These characters’ life stories in the play render the reality of life which allows the audience to connect, because almost every individual has had unpleasant experiences or past traumas.

The stage design, which is a wooden frame, is simple. Through this structure, the audience is able to distinguish the settings both inside and outside of the frame. After each scene, the audience can immediately reflect and think about the message that is delivered by the actors, while the backstage is getting ready to set up a new scene. During the scene of Anna and Sean’s wedding, viewers can have the experience as guests at the cliff due to the simulated fog and the fact that the guests are facing the viewers.

This play mainly depicts a story of two lovers. Together with the minor characters, the story successfully portrays the ups and downs in people’s lives. Anna’s successful publication of her book, arguments with her father and the death of Linda’s dog identify the reality of life. These unique and yet ordinary incidents allow the characters to forge a connection with the audience.

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