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Sunday 12 December 2010

Kin by E.V Crowe at the Royal Court Theatre; recommended: 4 * out of 5

Would you send your 10 year old daughter off to boarding school? After seeing E.V. Crowe's play Kin currently showing at the Royal Court Theatre you would not.

In an English boarding School 10 year old Mimi (Maya Gerber) and Janey (Madison Lygo) are seemingly best friends. Both are highly intelligent and precocious. Mimi is keen to have a role in the school play Arthur Miller's The Crucible about the Salem witch trials. Soon it is clear that the relationship between Janey and Mimi is complex and fraught. Their teacher, Mrs B, who thinks more rightly than wrongly as it turns out, that running a house of 10 year old girls is akin to being caught up in the plot of Golding's Lord of the Flies: “They are small dogs in packs or pairs, doing what small dogs do.” She suspects that Janey subjects Mimi to bullying or inappropriate sexual advances. Both offences according to the result in the offending child being thrown out of the school.

Kin tells us the story from the perspective of the children involved. The writing is outstanding as it captures tone and language in the dialogue among the children. They are quick, highly articulate and liberally use the foulest swearwords. The speed of the dialogue among the children takes some getting used to. Another strength of the play is the way it shows the relationship between the children at the boarding school and their parents through a series of telephone conversations, of which we only need to see one side to get a full picture.
The ensemble acting is of a high standard. The young protagonists played by Maya Gerber and Madison Lygo give outstanding performances in difficult roles.

The author, E V Crowe was a member of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme and has been on attachment at the Royal Court, Summer 2007 and National Theatre Studio, Summer 2010. There is not much more information available about the author, but I assume EV Crowe is a young woman.

Kin is a moving play that is well worth seeing. A rare opportunity to see the world from a child's point of view, skilfully captured with great authenticity. Most adults would feel that this is definitely not a play for children. Having said that, I saw one father bring his 10-12 year old daughter to this play.

The Royal Court deservedly receives much credit for giving very young and budding playwrights much encouragement and a strong helping hand. In Kin the audience benefits richly from this policy. I doubt whether an older playwright could have captured the voices of the children in the play with such force and authenticity.

Madison Lygo (Janey), Maya Gerber (Mimi). Picture by Johan Persson

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