Theatre Review: No Kids, Unity Theatre, Liverpool

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(c) Alex Brenner (info@alexbrenner.co.uk)

Written By: Chris Daley

Format: Theatre

Genre: Drama

Date: January 25th

Location: The Unity Theatre

“George and Nir are a real-life same-sex couple trying to answer a question many of us face. Every consideration – adoption, surrogacy, co-parenting, the environmental impact of childbirth, the fears and anxieties, how the past affects parenting and much, much more – brings with it a succession of ethical challenges. Together, George and Nir confront this chaos head-on. And invite you along for the ride”

I’ve said it before, the less I know about a production going into it, often the better I am for it. I take in less expectations, less bias, less ideas of what the play should or shouldn’t be. The flyer before the show being my only knowledge of “No Kids” before watching I simply knew it was about a gay couple attempting to answer the question of whether or not to have a child. This is a two-hander between real life couple Liverpoodlian George Mann and Israeli born Nir Paldi. They play themselves, live on stage considering every possible consideration that comes with a male couple in the 21st century attempting to have a child.

In the first five minutes George pretends to look on his phone considering options and information about making a to do list for a gay couple having a child. Rather than have a prop phone he pretended to look at his hand. This slightly took me away from the theatricality of the performance as I wondered why they hadn’t simply included a real phone as a prop. Now you may feel this is a rather pedantic comment to make so early on in a review. I feel I have to include this simply for balance as it is quite literally the only negative I could find with this entire production. Because once that was out of the way, I could not take my eyes of them.

The two present a real couple making real decisions about a very important question the actual life couple is considering. My first reaction was how meta this all felt. Being part of a genuine couple’s decision making process and seeing this happen in front of us. Yet one of the reasons I didn’t mind how self referential it was being was how authentic the subject matter was. Every consideration from adoption to surrogacy, from gay parents to gay role models; all of it feels like it’s been part  of real discussions the couple have actually had. Which makes the whole drama feel unadulterated in it’s ability to get across it’s message.

The writing from Mann and Paldi is both clever and slick. It feels both honest and accurate ; valid and factual enough to get across it’s ideas without feeling preachy or like we’re being lectured at. This is a couple asking questions to which they don’t know the answer. Nothing is decided, nothing is definite which helps the audience feel like they’re part of the journey. We are part of the story because they don’t know the answers any more than we do.

However, if I was to take one thing away from this production it would be the awe I felt watching these two perform. Don’t get me wrong, as I say the writing was impressive but these two were almost mesmerising to watch. Let’s forget how in sync and in time they were with eachother throughout. Let’s pass over the fact that they both play a variety of characters, often with minimal or no change in costume yet the clarity of who was playing whom was never in doubt. Let’s even disregard for a second, that they both have to play fictional versions of themselves whilst keeping the drama as real as possible. Putting all this to one side, the sheer energy of both performers is quite literally breathtaking.

Starting with an early dance set depicting their first meeting in a club, they do not stop for seventy minutes. It is unrelenting. There are several other dance numbers with quite strict choreography. They move all the set which often includes heavy slams of large tables. They jump on and off furniture and run around like mad men. And yet, when the show needs a change of pace, the drama changes instantaneously.

Never have I ever seen such precision and attention to detail to the pacing of a show. From someone that’s done their fair share of shows and not even kept up half the amount of energy they did, George and Nir – I salute you. It sounds stereotypical to say this but they do make us laugh and they do make use cry. I went from being on the edge of my seat to being relaxed and virtually melancholic at one stage. The range of emotions I felt during this performance is actually quite difficult to measure.

It’s rare that a show like this comes along. A show that is not only enjoyable, entertaining and memorable but also important. More now than ever we live in a divided society where the biggest danger comes from people who already have their minds made up. People that don’t listen and don’t question why we should or shouldn’t do something. That’s all this show is really. A series of questions. Should we or shouldn’t we? No more. No less. But what’s most important is it doesn’t tell you. It asks you.

My review for “No Kids” could be summed up with a simple story. On leaving the theatre I turned to my friend with whom I had seen the show. She also loved it and wanted to know what I thought. I simply said “I’m trying to find something I don’t like about it”. She couldn’t understand why to which my only response was “Because I don’t want my review to sound like I’m taking a bribe. All I want to do is tell everyone about how much I loved it and how everyone should go and see it, so much so they may think I’m being paid by the performers”

So yeah, next time use a real phone. Other than that just keep doing what you’re doing guys.

Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect