Review: The Kitchen Sink (Ensemble Theatre)

Venue: Ensemble Theatre (Kirribilli NSW), Oct 14 – Nov 18, 2017
Playwright: Tom Wells
Director: Shane Bosher
Cast: Ben Hall, Huw Higginson, Duncan Ragg, Contessa Treffone, Hannah Waterman
Image by Prudence Upton

Theatre review
The story happens in a working class household, north of England. Kath and Martin are regular people with regular concerns; they worry about job security, and try their best to provide for their children. Sophie and Billy are on the precipice of adulthood, but yet to find their own wings.

There is no big drama in Tom Wells’ The Kitchen Sink, only an intimate authenticity to its depiction of family life that most will find deeply charming. The characters connect in a simple but profoundly honest way, and whether or not our circumstances are similar, it is in Wells’ acute observations of those ties that bind, that the play allows us to empathise.

A remarkable warmth pervades the stage, and it moves the audience. For the production’s duration, we are all embroiled in the daily lives of these ordinary people, who have very quickly, and magically, become our kin. Director Shane Bosher manufactures a space that puts us at immediate ease, ready to get involved in every domestic exchange that occurs. Simultaneously sensitive and robust, Bosher’s approach not only makes The Kitchen Sink an affecting experience, it is also memorably and delightfully funny.

Thoroughly rehearsed and finely considered, a cast of five quite extraordinary performers, present a work of impressive art and entertainment. As Kath, Hannah Waterman’s passion, charisma and infallible sincerity, anchors the show in a place that always feels genuine and benevolent. She exemplifies all that is good about the maternal instinct, and we in turn, become generous ourselves, in how we receive the show.

Duncan Ragg and Contessa Treffone play a young couple, close but not yet committed. Both are intricate in approach, with ingenious inventions that enrich the personalities they create so convincingly. Ben Hall and Huw Higginson are father and son, each actor extremely likeable, and we find ourselves persuaded by all that they bring to the stage.

The Kitchen Sink begins and ends at home. Whatever our individual lives may become, those of us who have a home to return to, must count ourselves lucky. Stars will rise and fall for every existence, but to have unwavering love and security from those we count family, is invaluable. We rightly put great attention on things like money and careers, but there is no fault greater than neglecting the sacred.

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