Friday, April 15, 2011
New York, April 2011 - Day Two, "Kin"
As the Rolling Stones said, "you can't always get what you want." And even though you try, sometimes you can't always get what you need. Truth is, you get what you get.
This is the truth at the heart of "Kin," a sharp, intelligent new play at Playwrights Horizons. Actually, the real truth is this: you get what you get, and if you can't learn to deal with that, you're in for a rough life. Isn't there a Buddhist maxim that happiness lies not in getting what you want, but wanting what you get?
Though they strive mightily for what they want and need, the characters in "Kin" are thwarted at almost every turn. And it's not like they're even reaching for the stars -- all they want is a little genuine human connection. A father wants to connect with his daughter. A young couple, both wounded by past loves, want to know if they're really right for each other. A woman wants to move beyond a trauma from her past enough to leave her house for the first time in more than two decades.
The play begins with an uncomfortable break-up (the exact opposite of human connection), and in the few scenes after, it isn't always clear how the characters are all connected. They seem to drift in lonely bubbles of their own. But as Bathsheba Doran's compelling, naturalistic (but still quite theatrical) scenes unfold, one by one, the intricacies of their connections become clearer and clearer and by the time the play ends, everyone has come to a place where they seem comfortable -- happy, even -- with what life has given them. As one character says to another who has asked her advice on what to do about a woman he loved who spurned him, "For god's sake man, give chase!"
The characters in "Kin" start out passive and resigned, but ultimately give chase to their happiness.