5-⭐ · Fringe Reviews 2018 · Reviews · Theatre Reviews

REVIEW: ‘Kids Play’ by Boys of the Empire Productions

5 Stars

(Performed in August 2018 – Review published in November 2018)

My very last show from Fringe 2018. I tried numerous times to see it for free using my SpacePass but to no avail. There were never tickets left. On the last they of the run, I decided to bite the bullet and pay in advance, ending up second in the queue behind an elderly Scottish man who seemed very angry about a lot of things I didn’t quiet understand. Having seen Boys of the Empire’s show Lord Dismiss Us last year (also written by Glenn Chandler) I had quite high hopes for Kids Play. The rest of my cast had hyped it up to me, and I went in expecting to see a great play. And a great play I did indeed see.

Kids Play was piece of quiet revelations, that did everything necessary to convince it was heading in one direction only to take a sudden swerve into unexpected territory. It’s only on looking back that you realised this was the direction that made the most sense all along. Chandler is gifted at lulling an audience into believing they know what’s going to happen in a story when in fact they very much do not. It makes the twists and turns of his writing all the more effective. 

Really good two-hander plays are always a pleasure to see at the Fringe, and I believe Kids Play was the strongest of these I saw in 2018. It was powerful and evocative, funny and gripping, thoroughly normal but abnormally so. Really, I think it was everything realism in theatre should be. An example of the rich dramatic tapestry that can be created from two unlikely characters meeting in a single space and having a conversation in real time. Plays that stick to the Aristotelian Unities, and do it perfectly, have a special place in my heart. The Unities are always tricky to pull off without causing detriment to pacing or plot but when a play gets them right it usually makes for a pretty damn powerful piece of drama. Kids Play was a fine demonstration of how powerful a play can be when it gets them exactly right. 

Clement Charles (Theo) and Gareth Watkins (Greg) are both astounding actors who were a large contributing factor in what made this play so engrossing to watch. They portrayed Chandler’s characters with beautiful complexities, nuances, and subtleties to their acting that only comes from rigorous training and talent. The relationship they created onstage was a fascinating one watch. Watkins had absolute oodles of gravitas and quiet humour to his performance, and Charles gave his character almost painful levels of sincerity. Together they formed a partnership that, while it maintained a constant air of discomfort, was still a highly touching and moving onstage relationship to watch unfold. 

I really cannot find a bad word to say about this production. It lived up to all the hype that was built up around it for me, and was a perfect way to close out my 2018 Edinburgh Fringe.

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