BWW Review: AN ACT OF KINDNESS, The Vaults
Two worlds collide at a bus stop. Martin (Robert Hayes) is a young professional whose life clashes with Leila (Helena Westerman), a bubbly and energetic 23-year-old woman who works in a coffee shop (and hates it).
He takes his mum to chemotherapy sessions nearby and she's always rushing off. They discuss gender pressure and stereotypes, family issues and jobs. An Act of Kindness is a feelgood play which resembles but never becomes a romantic comedy.
Written by Westerman, the show is a collection of encounters between the two. They meet at their best and worst, and eventually manage to inadvertently change each other's lives. Its pleasant predictability is engulfed in humour and positivity, and Westerman ably tackles gender roles and grief.
Leila's bustling personality crashes through a Hayes who's guarded and standoffish at first, but who slowly crumbles under the weight of his personal issues. She supports him in his journey and in turn he persuades her to quit her dead-end job and figure out who she really is. They find solace on that bench and share a weird kind of friendship.
Westerman avoids the cliché romcom style and leaves her audience with a bittersweet but appropriately millennial ending. Directed by Caroline Simonsen, Hayes and Westerman play opposites but share a cracking chemistry in their differences, creating a buzzing excitement around their fleeting friendship.
Besides the cheesiness of it, An Act of Kindness is a sweet and fuzzy story with a heartening message. It's refreshing to see that love isn't the endgame in Westerman's piece, and the selfless kindness of strangers can change lives in many different ways.