In The Kitchen Sink you find yourself transported to a family kitchen in Withernsea, Yorkshire. Here Dolly Parton features heavily, thanks to camp art student wannabe Billy (Ryan Sampson). You see dinner lady mum, Kath (Lisa Palfrey) putting her family first, whilst milkman dad, Martin (Steffan Rhodri) pins his hopes on a new yoghurt to bring the boom in business that he so badly needs. Sophie (Leah Brotherhead) is training for her black belt and Pete (Andy Rush) is jumping at the chance to fix some pipes, hoping to win the love of icy Sophie.
Tom Wells’ script is brilliantly funny. Wells’ awareness of the minute idiosyncrasies that form our day-to-day lives (Billy shouting for his mum’s attention whilst sitting four feet away or Martin wearing Kath’s reading glasses because he can’t be bothered to find his own) create rich, realistic and well-crafted characters. Wells is definitely one to watch as he continues to develop and grow as a playwright.
Sampson’s physicality, characterisation and comedy timing put Billy in the spotlight throughout the piece and create a character who is an absolute delight to watch. I enjoyed Palfrey’s Kath (especially the caring quality she portrayed for the younger members of the company) and Rush’s nervous Pete. At times I found Brotherhead’s performance slightly forced and Rhodri’s voice strained but these were rather minor points in otherwise good performances.
The set, designed by Ben Stones, is excellent. Featuring a fully functioning kitchen and humorous changes of season, Stones’ ideas work seamlessly with the script (much like the rest of the production). Having a stage in the round, or rather in the square, for this production, can be a difficult task but the space has a lived in, family feel to it that portrays a knackered idea of Withernsa to the audience.
The new site for the Bush has a lovely atmosphere, even before entering the auditorium (which is a flexible space, able to mould and change with each new production). Tamara Harvey has produced a strong production with clear and truly believable characters. The Kitchen Sink is a smart piece of new writing performed by a talented cast. This portrait of Withernsea is sure to enchant.