Emily Harris, Online Screen Editor, and Ellie Crisp review EUTCO’s production of The Kitchen Sink at The Hall.
[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]ucked away in one of Exeter’s hidden gems (so hidden we were five minutes late), Exeter University Theatre Company’s The Kitchen Sink took place in rustic venue, The Hall, a stone’s throw from the Quay. The show will be EUTCO’s contribution to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and we had the privilege of previewing the staging of Tom Well’s modern comedy. Set in Withernsea (we haven’t heard of it either), the play tells the story of a dysfunctional family whose lives revolve around their kitchen sink.
Encompassing the domestic tribulations of milkman Martin (David Nation) and dinner lady Kath (Helly Dudley), the play concerns itself with the economic and career-based futures of their children. The acting in the play remains convincing and engaging, and we have to raise our hats to the perfection of the northern accent.
Flora Ashton’s portrayal of Sophie, the daughter, balances feistiness and sensitivity to create a strikingly head-strong yet relatable character. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t do an internal fist pump when she announced that she’d punched her jujitsu instructor. Dudley’s representation of her mother demonstrates a compassionate yet slightly desperate longing to keep the pieces of her family together. Yet comic relief comes in at large (surprisingly) from Nation’s portrayal of father, Martin. Seemingly distant, but his cutting and dry sense of humour often caused waves of laughter in the audience. Plumber/grandma-worshipper Pete, played by Simon Marshall, is the character least bogged down by life’s problems, and instead sustains a positive and uplifting nature. And not to forget, Billy, played by Ollie McLellan, whose flamboyant and vibrant personality is excellently executed through several tributes to Dolly Parton.
Dolly Parton’s hit 9 to 5 seemed to glue scenes together, with all characters whistling the iconic chorus. Whether this was a mockery of the struggles of working-class life, or an extension of Billy’s admiration, we do think the repeated whistling was quite grating. However, we thoroughly enjoyed the occasional accapella renditions, and found the scene changes smooth and easy to follow.
The Kitchen Sink, described as “comedy with a punch”, appears more to us as a social drama with a dry comic spin; seriousness and humour come together to create an enjoyable yet realistic depiction of everyday life. Director, Alice Fitzgerald, should be commended for a certainly Fringe-worthy production which will leave those searching for either a comedy or drama equally satisfied. We definitely can’t see The Kitchen Sink going down the drain.
Find The Kitchen Sink at theSpace@ Surgeons Hall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August.
by Ellie Crisp and Emily Harris
All image credits from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1015311201827379/