by Donna Rutherford.
The Playhouse on the Fringe 18-22 Greenside Place EH1 3AA To 27 August 2012.
TICKETS: 0844 871 3014.
Review: Timothy Ramsden August.
Fine reflection on the sands of time.
This Scottish show is not to be confused with E V Crowe’s 2010 play of this name, seen at London’s Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. Donna Rutherford’s is a solo show (so far as people on stage is concerned, though there’ are five people on screen). And while Crowe wrote about characters of school age, Rutherford’s Kin are both real people, rather than stage creations, and adults at a stage of life when not only does mortality start to seem possible, but parents – specifically, here, mothers – are no longer the people who used to bring us up, but people liable to enter a second childhood phase with greater or lesser degrees of dependency. When, as she doesn’t say, we face becoming our children’s parents.
Rutherford talks, but does little more than make herself an eventual cup of tea. It’s the very homeliness of the action that anchors the reality of what those on screen talk about. The intimate domestic set turns what might have seemed material from a TV documentary into a more reflective theatre-piece, its quiet and steady pace having a near-ritual element; the creation of time to consider the impact of time.
It is, specifically, not about age as decay. The major impact illness has relates to one of the people on screen talking about how her own chronic condition might affect her ability to help a still-lithe mother in years to come. But the calm onscreen reports, alternating with the slower, sometimes sung, always deeply-considered sections from Rutherford, have a compelling impact. So calm is the tone that the three hour-glasses, through which sands of time are set running at various points, seem to have emerged with silent invisibility onto their separate tables. Each is smaller than the one in front, giving a sense of time progressively speeding-up as well as a routine of drinks from morning till night.
And when Rutherford herself leaves, the three spotlit hour-glasses make the point that time moves on. Somehow, thanks to the honesty and specific clarity of the accounts we’ve heard, interpolated by the onstage comments, it doesn’t seem a cliché.
Cast: Donna Rutherford.
Music: Norman Chalmers.