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Review of The Kitchen Sink by Tom Wells – Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch

Guest post by Deborah Russell

Dealing with issues of middle age, job loss, fear of failure and the pangs of the young trying to establish their place in the world, not to mention trauma, a funeral and a dollop of sadness, well all this could make for depressing viewing, but The Kitchen Sink manages to drop it all into the script with a simple message of hope wrapped up with laugh out loud humour, a fair smattering of silliness and even a little striptease.

Set somewhere northern with few job prospects (makes me think of my mum’s home town) all the action takes place in the kitchen. Stalwart set for many a working class drama you may say, but it really does work.

Set in the kitchen, the blond actress wearing an apron hold up a portrait of Dolly Parton
Admiring the Dolly Parton artwork. Dominic Jones and Sally George. Photo credit Mark Sepple

From the outset we’re introduced to Dolly Parton and in truth, mostly to her nipples. Dolly is a theme throughout the play, representing the dreams of eldest son Billy (played brilliantly by Dominic Jones), a budding gay artist with hopes of getting into art school in London.

Matilda Tucker is Billy’s almost permanently angry and disappointed sister Sophie, who at 22 hits a buffer in her future plans and throws her lot in with milkman father Martin, played by Ken Bradshaw. The father and daughter are taciturn and uncommunicative – both of them have their fears, which neither is willing to voice, to each other or anyone else. Perfect working partners with a glass half full approach to life.

Holding the family together is of course mum Kath (Sally George), who wants her children to be happy no matter what they do, or where they go, and for her husband to talk to her, or even just to see her. She desperately wants her relationship with Martin to crawl its way out of the rut that a lifetime of low paid jobs can bring.

Christmas in the kitchen.   The daughter is pouring Prosecco, mum is sitting in the middle offering the dinner to the unimpressed son sitting on the end,  The portrait of Dolly Parton has been surrounded by green tinsel and fairy lights
The not so great cooking. Matilda Tucker, Sally George, Dominic Jones. Photo credit Mark Sepple

Kath’s is a focal character, she has some of the best lines and delivers them with hilarious aplomb while channelling her angst into producing food that doesn’t meet Martin’s expectations (in truth he just wants potatoes) and trying to match-make her daughter Sophie with Pete (Joseph Reed) who is really just a nice guy who happens to be good at plumbing. Yes, that’s the link, the kitchen sink and its wonky tap.

The father is standing by the fridge with his back to his son, who is dancing on the kitchen table, and the mother who is also dancing with her arms in the air.
Ken Bradshaw, Dominic Jones and Sally George. Photo credit Mark Sepple

The cast are great with wonderful pedigrees and excellent comedic timing but Kath steals the show. Her scenes with son Billy (who comes in a strong second) are a particular joy. Let’s just say I couldn’t have imagined smoking weed with my mum.

One criticism would be the theatre sound and Queen’s didn’t have the best there is to offer. Dolly Parton tracks were used to transition each scene but the use of fading at the end of every track appeared to be a foreign concept. That aside, the play was thoroughly enjoyable and happily for all ended on a note of very much needed hope. Not to mention love.

Playing now until 2nd April 2022

Tickets £12.50 to £29. If you play the National Lottery, you can use a special code to get 2 for 1 tickets.

Queen's Theatre Billet Lane Hornchurch, RM11 1QT



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