‘The Kitchen Sink’ is a five-star award winning play, written by comedy actor Tom Wells when he was 35 yrs. He was declared the Most Promising Playwright of the Year when this show about domestic life had its 2011 London Premiere. Wells is also a dancer, stunt man and movement advisor. He often combined all three as part of his ‘Dangerologists’ act to an amazing result.
He hails from a tiny hamlet in East Yorkshire called Kilnsea. Being 20 kms east of Hull, Kilnsea is one of the most remote villages on the coast of England. The local church, St Helens, lost its graveyard to sea erosion. Later, the church itself fell into the water. The town is famous for having a curved concrete block which acted as an early amplifier warning system for approaching German planes.
It is understandable how a man with such an isolated childhood can produce such a detailed insight into a closed community. The script’s inventive turn of phrase has been likened to Alan Bennett’s work, in its truthful portrayal of a family’s life that most of us can recognise.
This dramatic character study with smatterings of humour is brought to you by the Harbour Theatre Company. This dramatic presentation can be seen at the Camelot Theatre within the Memorial Hall at 16 Lochee Street, in Mosman Park. The one- and three-quarter hour shows have curtain up at 7.30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until Saturday 1st June. There are matinées on Sunday 26th May and 2nd June at 2.00 pm.
The scene: Probably 1980. A single interior setting (dinette / kitchen) in a working-class home at Withernsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
The set: was designed, built and painted by Brian Mahoney, Peter Kirkwood, Phil Redding, David Eggleston, Jim Davies, Tina Barker and Grace Hitchin. The set was realistic and strongly built. Wow, it had a linoleum floor. The props: A pine table and matching chairs on the left. A backdoor lead straight into the kitchen. A well-worn kitchen unit, with a temperamental sink was on the rear wall. A lace curtained window showed the housing estate outside. A fridge (with glass milk bottle) and a large electric oven. Stage manager Bronwyn Hammond, along with Jo Sterkenburg and Grace Hitchin produced some great props.
The special effects were admired by quite a few at the interlude.
The scenic artist was Melissa Bassett, who gave us a fantastic and instantly recognisable portrait.
The fine lighting and perfectly cued sound came courtesy of the ‘inseparable terrible twins’ Rob Tagliaferri and Vanessa Gudgeon who have been Harbour Theatre techies for decades.
With 14 scenes, the stage crew must be extra well organised and onto the stage within a couple of seconds of the lights dimming. If scene changes take 20 seconds, then that means the audience must sit in the semi-dark for a total of almost 5 minutes watching the transformations.
Struggling in the kitchen is Kath, the Mum (Ann Speicher) who helps make ends meet with her job as a school dinner-lady and a traffic lollypop woman. Finances are tight and so the kitchen plumbing is not what it should be, but Kath seems to find mental relief by belting the tap with a hammer.
Young Billy (Alec Fuderer) who is a shy, nervous but talented artist has a Dolly Parton fetish. He is sitting at the dining table worried about the finishing touches of his artwork. The door bursts open and furious Sophie (Solonje Burns) enters. Sophie is Kath’s daughter, who has her ju-jitsu black belt examination coming up soon. Like most days she struggles with failure and rejection and her screeching wakes her Dad, Martin (Jarrod Buttery). Martin is a struggling milkman, proudly serving the community which is turning to the new supermarket.
Sophie’s friend Pete (Liam Crevola) looks after his Gran. He is an ambitious young man but lacks the self-confidence to carry out his dreams.
This is a beautifully written piece that is very true to life. It has tender moments mixed with personal ambitions, dreams and desperation – well done Ann and Solonje. Thanks to skilful direction by Grace Hitchin, the cast knew precisely their characters, and all conquered the Yorkshire accent impeccably. Unfortunately, at times the accent was too good, making the dialogue a little difficult to understand; so, for the first time ever may I say congratulations, but you are too defined so perhaps ease off slightly with the inflection.
There were a few laughs as Mum tried to bring the latest ‘in’ foods to the dinner table.
The acting was cleverly underplayed, with hidden frustrations subtly boiling up inside the actors. Likewise, moments of confused undeclared love added a poignancy to their lives.
Very well presented and acted. Congratulations.