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Kin

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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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Your character is who you are when no one is looking, yet your character isn’t derived from thin air. It’s gradually sculpted and formed by the people you know. Whether for good or the bad, your family and friends mold you into the person you will become. So how much can a neurotic best friend and an agoraphobic mother tell about a couple’s relationship? A whole lot, actually.

Kin, beautifully written by Bathsheba Doran and produced at Playwrights Horizons, follows the romance between a Columbia English professor (Kristen Bush) and an Irish personal trainer (Patch Darragh) through their kinships with their inner circles. Interestingly, the play is unfolded through the giant, white rectangle that acts as a frame (among other things), capturing important events in the character’s lives. [click to continue….]

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Actresses Kristen Bush and Laura Heisler in Kin. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

Recently, plays and performances have relied highly on their flashy costumes, sets, and scale to draw in audiences. From Spider-Man to Priscilla Queen of the Desert, it would seem that the theater world is saturated with spectacle. In spite of all this, a new play called Kin brings theater back to what it should be about: making real magic by getting real people in a room together and seeing what happens. The play is about the incidental relationships that form and coalesce when two people fall in love. Rather than using the couple in question to create the drama, Bathsheba Doran skillfully examines these side relationships, and writes quick and snappy dialogue that never manages to feel jarring. In the process, she creates a completely believable cast of characters whose back stories and life stories that audience cares, and even better, wants to know about.

Their stories are forever entwined, like the body of a knotty family tree. [click to continue….]

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A scene from Kin. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The mythical, love-at-first-glance meeting between couples is the cornerstone of all romantic comedies. But for young Columbia professor Anna (Kirsten Bush) and Irish trainer Sean (Patch Darragh), their story spans several decades, across multiple states and countries, and follows not only their union, but the coming together of people so different it could only be described as fate.

Kin, written by Bathsheba Doran and directed by Sam Gold, follows the lengthy courtship of these two unlikely characters through snapshots of their lives and the lives of those around them. In the end, we see not only the development of an unlikely couple, but the union of two families each coming to terms with their pasts and embracing a more hopeful future.

The word that most comes to mind when thinking of Kin is ambitious. [click to continue….]

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