Kin is a theatrical feast that mixes movement, dance, and puppetry, with exquisite design and lighting that is as much a part of the show as the performers.
In development for three years, it is a grim coincidence that this piece on migration by Ipswich theatre company Gecko comes to be performed just as the UK government is advocating a less than kind approach to our asylum seeking kin.
The show is inspired by the experiences of artistic director Amit Lahav’s grandmother, who as a young girl walked across Yemen to Palestine to escape persecution, as well as his family’s history more broadly.
The 10-strong cast also had a hand in devising the piece, which explores the experiences of two groups of migrants, those that live in the country already, and those charged with policing movement. Between them we find people that are the same, but different, full of joy and capable of fear and violence.
It is an emotionally rich piece, from the palpable relief of a separated group of travellers who reconnect after their journey to the dark cruelty of immigration guards, some all too ready to wield their power for kicks. There is humour and satire too – I may have imagined it, but I swear I saw a shock of blonde Johnsonian bouffant in amongst the ruling classes.
Rhys Jarman’s set and costumes come together seamlessly with Chris Swain’s lighting, with a simplicity that is shocking in its effectiveness. The stage is mostly in darkness with our eyes directed with all the deftness of a magician to just the right spot, leading to a fluid 80 minute show that never lulls. A rotating centre is bordered by miniature cliff edges that only gradually reveal themselves, surprising the audience even quite deep into the piece.
The show’s message is perhaps not groundbreaking, and its narrative has a couple of confusing distractions, but as a piece of performance this is a stunning thing.
Delicious and thoughtful eye bleach for the sometimes all too bleak world around us.
- Kin continues at Norwich Theatre Royal until Thursday, March 16, 2023 before transferring to the National Theatre in London in spring 2024.