DramaNorth WestReview

The Kitchen Sink, the Coliseum Theatre, Oldham

Writer:  Tom Wells

Director: Chris Lawson

Reviewer: Richard Hall

Following the success of his debut production, Jumpers for Goalposts, the Coliseum’s Associate Director, Chris Lawson, closes the theatre’s winter season with another of Tom Wells’ award-winning plays The Kitchen Sink. Winner of the Critics’ Circle Award for most promising playwright in 2011 and the George Devine Award in 2012, The Kitchen Sink has much in common with Jumpers for Goalposts; it features big hearted, down to earth characters immersed in the minutiae of their daily lives.

Set in a rundown East Yorkshire seaside resort near Hull described by one of the characters as being, “fucked and sinking in the sea,” The Kitchen Sink follows the ups and downs of milkman Martin and his family over the course of a single year. Martin feels that it is his responsibility to provide for his family and with a broken milk float and disappearing customers he starts to spiral into depression and self-doubt.  His son, Billy obsessed with Dolly Parton aspires to attend Art College in London and his feisty daughter, Sophie is desperate to earn her black belt in ju-jitsu. Frantically trying to hold the family together and encourage each of her children in pursuing their dreams is Kath, a modern day like Mother Courage figure, who working two jobs to make ends meet spins as many plates doing so as the ones that she serves her latest culinary experiments on. Drawn into the heart of the family is Pete, an apprentice plumber who spends as much time mending the family’s proverbial kitchen sink as he does unsuccessfully trying to persuade Sophie to go out with him.

Wells’ has a fine ear for dialogue and the vernacular, one of the reasons that his characters are so likeable and real is that they speak like people we know and their personal dramas instantly connect. Everyone watching this hugely enjoyable comedy will recognise someone they know in each of the characters. Director, Chris Lawson, has assembled a top-notch cast who serve both him and the play extremely well; in the hands of these skilful actors, this is a family that one really cares for long after the performance has finished.

As Kath, the wonderful Sue Devaney is exceptional throughout, especially when finally beaten by the leaking kitchen sink she releases twenty years of disillusionment and frustration to devastating effect. William Travis as Martin is a superb foil for Devaney and expertly handles the highs and lows of his character with apparent ease. Local boy Sam Glen makes a strong debut in his home theatre excelling as Billy and Coliseum newcomer Emily Stott is hugely impressive as headstrong Sophie. The most endearing perhaps of all the character is the hapless Pete played with great subtly by David Judge, he is clearly an actor to watch for the future and hopefully it won’t be too long before he is back again at the Coliseum.

The Kitchen Sink, is the type of play that the Coliseum does very well, it is a genuine audience pleaser, has plenty of laugh out loud jokes, a plot that will be familiar to many and characters that are fun to spend some time with. Only on for two weeks this appealing, funny, gentle and heart-warming production is highly recommended.

Runs until Saturday 24 February | Image: Joel Chester Fildes


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