Starting an extended run at Live Theatre, this refreshing, rich and relevant family play provide great humour and hubris in its exploration of identity, love and family life. Audiences are guaranteed to laugh and many will cry, but all will delight in this wonderful journey expertly written by Ali Taylor whose dialogue and story comes to life on stage.
Taking inspiration from the annual Whitby festival Goth Weekend, this play revels in the sub-cultures that define the ‘other’ in society. From the widowed father and grieving daughter to the single goth mother and her confused, unsure adolescent son, there are aspects of each character and situation that will resonate for all. This is a story steeped in the complicated, messy reality of family and life. Its grounding in the North East of England brings joyous local humour and a gritty outlook mixed with often repressed emotion, especially from central protagonists, Ken and Belinda. Rest assured, the layers of resistance are artfully unpeeled as the scenes play out.
The play opens with a vibrant goth rock performance from Belinda (Jessica Johnson) and her son Simon AKA Bram which sets the scene for the contrasting dynamic between their counterparts. Ken (Sean McKenzie) a widowed plumber, down on his luck and his daughter Anna (Amy Trigg) a bolshie teenager preparing Ken for his first date in years. His anxiety is endearing and Anna’s desperation to help her father by imposing her idea of what moving on is establishes a central conflict between both characters. These two worlds collide when Ken and Belinda meet and connect over multiple pints and ends following a tumultuous journey Whitby Goth Weekend.
The story progresses with great pace, laughter and touching scenes between family who have lost, hurting and trying to find a new way. Each character has their own personal daemons to overcome and their identities are encapsulated by a line expressed by Simon later in the play when he asks, ‘How can I say what I am if I don’t even know?’ The play examines what it is to be different and what it is to conform. The reality is that we all make our own choices and decide what feels right for us. This is the strong affirmative message that this play delivers. In the end, what unites our characters is their love for each other and acceptance of each other’s identity despite their differences.