top of page
Reading the Paper


May 07, 2006   By Jeannine Chatterton-Papineau   Publication: InfoZine, KC, Mo

Kansas City, Mo. - infoZine - It's a play in keeping with the Unicorn's goals of celebrating the complex and resilient human spirit and exploring, this year, "the families we are born into and the families we create." Next of Kin is a farcical study of familial anomie, crafted on a  series of broad improbabilities involving broadly sketched characters. Much of the humor depends on the tantalizing reveal -- which then turns out to be only a partial reveal. The central characters, Don, played by Dan Barnett, and his father, played by Jim Birdsall, are brought together unexpectedly and struggle with a relationship which went permanently amiss back when Don was only twelve. This is not a sunshiny farce, although it didn't strike me as being terribly dark. My companion, whose father was both a child molester and a sanctimonious elder of a church he adopted on a whim, did not really enjoy the play on any level. The acting is purposely overblown which is suitable for this unusual comedy, yet sometimes annoying. Barnett and Birdsall are ably supported by Brian Paulette, Karen Errington, and Sarah Crawford. Barnett is especially appealing and believable playing his twelve-year-old self, sulking in a hunting blind with his errant father. Paulette manages to keep us constantly aware the he is the youngest sibling. Don't look for messages in this production. If there is a message, it might be "Call your mother; a message on the answering machine is not enough." And that's especially appropriate coinciding as this production does with Mother's Day. That's not to say that a ticket to Next of Kin is sure to be a perfect Mather's Day gift. Still... If you are a good child who calls your mother, and if your mother is a little twisted toward the macabre, you might want to take her to see Next of Kin. Or, if you are a good mother, albeit a little twisted, and you have a bad child who does NOT phone home, you might want to take that child to Next of Kin as a cautionary tale. This is an adult child we're talking about, mind you. Mother's Day aside, Next of Kin has moments you will remember, plenty of laughs, and a nicely distorted view of the world that make it worth seeing. It will continue at the Unicorn through May 21, 2006. The box office number is 816 531-PLAY.

Next of Kin at the Unicorn Theatre, Review: News
bottom of page