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BWW Reviews: KIN Has West Coast Premiere At Theatre 40

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KIN by English playwright Bathsheba Doran has its West Coast premiere at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills from Sept 26-Oct 27, Thurs-Sat evenings at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm, directed by Jules Aaron, produced by David Hunt Stafford, and featuring Alan Aymie, Melissa Collins, John Combs, Alice Cutler, Luise Heath, Elizabeth Lande, Rhonda Lord, Grinnell Morris and David Hunt Stafford.

Anna is teaching at Columbia and writing a book about punctuation in the poetry of John Keats. Sean is a personal trainer from Ireland. At first glance, they would appear not to have that much in common and would not be right for each other. In reality, they are perfect for each other, in so many ways as Anna and Sean have both been wounded by love before. Having been wounded by life themselves, various members of their extended "kin" have something to say about them. Will Anna's and Sean's new-found love endure?

The title of the play in which they are the focus is called KIN - and kin, in this context, refers not only to their literal, immediate families, but rather to the extended family to which they are connected, including relatives, friends, ex-lovers, and potential in-laws and, in turn, the people to whom they are connected. In short, more than family, the play is about making connections with other human beings and being connected by them.

Unfortunately the characters in this production seem to be a hodgepodge of stereotypes not fully realized by the author and the jumping around within the last seven years in both America and Ireland was oftentimes confusing. It would be much easier to follow the storyline if it was presented chronologically, and perhaps that might be a better way for the audience to identify and care about what happens to these characters.

On opening night, many of the actors seemed to not be fully in touch with the character they were playing, making the 100 minutes without an intermission seem overly long. However, praise goes to Melissa Collins who opens up her heart and soul as Anna. As she settles into the role, I hope her connections to the other characters in the play become more fully realized.

Grinnell Morris is both engaging and maddening as Sean, a man who cannot commit for fear he is missing out on something better. He even joins Facebook to find Rachel (Alice Cutler), a woman from his past, his "one that got away" who once they meet, turns out to be married and not the woman who has inhabited his long-held fantasies anyway. And just how many people of either sex do you know like that?

Perhaps the theme of the play is that we all pursue someone to love out of our fear of being alone in facing life and death, as once you fall in love, you're not alone any more. And in the pursuit of love, you may just find additional comfort in the company of your kin, whoever and wherever they may be when things go wrong as well as right. After all, a good shoulder to cry on or arms to hug you go a long way when heartbreak takes over your life.

Be advised there is much adult language throughout the play, often apparently thrown in just for the shock value. The set is simple with moveable blocks as scenery set pieces and rotating curtains suggesting different locales. There are nice tableaus with the cast positioned around the set as others perform their scenes.

WHAT: KIN -West Coast Premiere of a romantic comedy-drama.
WHO: Written by Bathsheba Doran. Directed by Jules Aaron. Presented by Theatre 40.
WHERE: Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. This is on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. Theatre 40 is a professional company. There is ample free parking beneath the theatre.
WHEN: September 26- October 27, 2013. Thurs.- Sat. at 8:00. Sun. at 2:00. The performance on Friday, September 27 is by invitation only.
ADMISSION: Thurs. and Fri., $24.00. Sat. and Sun., $26.00.
RESERVATIONS: (310) 364-0535.
ONLINE TICKETING: www.Theatre40.org


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