Could be kinder
27 March 2018
Kinder K's slick production values don't distract Eve Allin from a problematic premise
German theatre is slick. It is a lot of white boxes and pot plants. It is a lot of Katie Mitchell. It is a lot of names of plays I don’t understand. That’s how I see it, I think. Kinder K perhaps never explicitly claimed to be Germanic, but in its structuring, staging, and naming it wears the badge proudly. The whole show is slick. The white milk in the glass bottle in the white framed case matches the white ironing board and the white children’s toys decorating the wall. The symbols of motherhood and purity are not encrypted, per se. The acting is divine. Gabriel Akuwudike and Jessica Webber hold the balancing of pace well. The occasional dropped line or awkwardly placed pause is perhaps forgiven in favour of styled costume changes and expertly placed lighting states.
Something feels slightly off, though. Something about starting with the slickness, the style, the air of Germanic perfectionist theatre, and how it becomes an apt medium for the insidious, slow-burn violence that pervades the show. I’m not sure if this is a good thing. There is a lot of trauma on that blank white stage. A Lot. But it is never felt in perhaps the way we think it should be. Instead of leaning in, I recoil. The words of disgust and the ethical arguments grate on my skin, on my liberal values (?).
The deep rooted violence echoed on a passive crowd in Venue 1. Webber and Akuwudike do their best to humanise, but I’m not sure if they should. The “crazy baby lady” is so often written by men. I’m sad she is so unlikeable. So detesting of herself and of humanity. I’m also not sure it is truthful. I’m not sure this, any of this (the white walls, the white ironing board, the way you look into each other’s eyes) is what I know.
The fault lies in the script if it lies anywhere. In the choice of the play. I hope this was not just a way for actors to flex their muscles, because to stage those words does not seem worth it. The slick production value framed the violence in a well-disguised dual narrative of trauma. Trauma of now, of past, and future. Maybe it is trying to be too clever for its own good. Maybe. Somewhere, Kinder K ended up allowing a language of anatomy to slip through the cracks, undisturbed.
"Don’t stage oppression, fight it." The words from the panel earlier that day were echoing in my mind. You chose to put this on, and you also chose to make us watch it. I want to know why I needed it.
Photo credit: Aenne Pallasca