BWW Review: A Mother's Observations of Honest Pint Theatre Company's Production of THE HERD
I was going to begin my review of the Honest Pint Theatre Company's production of THE HERD with this sentence. As the mother of a child with special needs, I related to THE HERD. Then, I was going to amend my opening sentence to read, 'As a parent, I related to THE HERD.'
Yes, it's true that Rory Kinnear's THE HERD is relatable whether you are a parent of a child with special needs or not. But the fact that I am the parent of a child with a 'disability' makes me perhaps less objective and therefore, unqualified, to offer a fair assessment or review per se.
Yes, I can say that the staging of this production is clear-sighted, and the set is beautiful, and the performances are solid. And all that would be true. But I feel fiercely protective of this cast, which is strange because I don't really know them. In fact, I've not met any of them except Honest Pint's Co-Artistic Directors David Henderson (who directed this production) and Susannah Hough (who stars in it), both of whom I sat down with the talk about THE HERD.
THE HERD opens as Carol (played by Hough) is making final preparations for her disabled son's 21st birthday party. The family arrives to celebrate the blessed event, and the motley crew veils their anger, frustration, and fear with the best of intentions. As I watched the drama unfold, I was dumbfounded. I'd like to think that I'm not as harried as Carol, but there are times when I definitely am and inevitably fall prey to wanting to be both supermom and rescuer, often at the expense of my own well-being.
And I hoped as I watched the characters snip at each other that I wasn't as angry and resentful as they were, but I know that there are moments when I have been, which is the unfortunate reality we as parents of "atypical" or in this case disabled family members never dare speak about.
And it made me a little sad to watch the character of Carol in this play care for her aging parents. I too have aging parents who I adore and care for, and while their minds are completely intact, physically they are a fraction of what they once were, a subtle reminder that they won't be around forever. And it's hard to watch because although now our roles are somewhat reversed, they have always been my protectors, champions, and cheerleaders. Who will take care of me when they are gone?
So, you can see as I gush through my emotions over THE HERD, that I am anything but objective when it comes to this production. I guess it's the familial humor and the raw, unfiltered language of Kinnear's script, that hit a nerve and struck me to the core. And perhaps that's the point of this story, to give an uncensored voice to the voiceless, those families suffering in silence often behind closed doors. And Kinnear is more qualified than most to tell that story since he grew up with a disabled sibling in the home. That's some powerful storytelling right there, one that not only challenges the actors to dig deep but clearly the audience as well. As I say to my daughter all the time, everybody's got something they are dealing with, whether they have a diagnosis or not, and it's up to the rest of us to be understanding, compassionate, and kind.
Honest Pint Theatre Company's production of THE HERD runs through February 10th at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre. For more information visit: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/.