Friday, 19 July 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: Our Kid - King's Arms Theatre, Salford.


“Jimmy and Tommy are inseparable” and have been through so much together and somehow survived but when Jimmy meets Mary everything changes, in this tale of “love, loss and revenge”.

Focusing on the relationship of two brothers, it is told from the perspective of one, and is brilliantly written, delivered and executed by the writer who is the sole star, in this performance for Greater Manchester Fringe, at King's Arms, Salford.

A “hard-hitting, working class drama” that tries to plug the gap of a genre that the industry fails to deliver on, apart from in soap operas and on TV in other series. Through this beautiful piece of, partly autobiographical, physical theatre, writer Taran Knight plays Jimmy, primarily, as well as a multitude of other characters through his utterly incredible talent for manipulating his voice for each. These, amazingly, range from brothers Jimmy (the main) and Tommy; their mother and abusive stepdad; their Irish nan, Big Bazza and members of the Moss Side Crew; his friends and gang leader Dave, and fellow members Andy Mac and Nigel (and Ste) Mckenna. He also voices long-term girlfriend/fiancée Mary Rose and her father - and his boss at the building site. All are perfectly represented, so much so that you forget it is just one man and even that is has been rehearsed, as it is almost fresh, natural and improvised. This versatility alone justifies the well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

The story follows the siblings as they fight - occasionally literally - in a world of poverty and austerity (not that we see them suffer for long because of that), growing up in a ‘rough’ council estate in Salford, on the border of Manchester, ‘the (drugs) game’, drinking and having to wander through life through the local boozer and cope with the jealousy of your little brother, “Our Kid”.

Interspersed with popular '90s Manchester tunes; football chants and snippets of history about Manchester United; and the drinking of real cans of Stella, this raw, highly emotive yet moving script is powerful and proves, as if it were needed, that family are there to support you, albeit perhaps hidden, and guide you on the path of your own life. They do it for your benefit, I promise.

Directed by Amanda Parker, this show and indeed its star and creator, should and, I am sure, will be remembered and monitored to see what comes next! With a sense of Buzz Hawkins (The Bradshaws) and Blood Brothers (re the plot), the continuity of the blocking is very good but I just wish the flowers - white lilies - had have been real.

Taran’s previous works include scripts for BBC Radio, including a children’s audiobook called The Jacksons and monologues.


Reviewer - John Kristof
on - 18/7/19

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