The Belfry Theatre’s new comedy is a hit
When a relationship ends, what comes next? How does someone rebuild their new life, and how do you do that when your ex-partner moves on? The Belfry Theatre’s new comedy Kindred, directed by Lauren Taylor, is about two couples going through a divorce, and how each member reacts to the fallout of their relationships.
To put it very simply, divorce can be complicated. Even in the best case scenario, it can be awkward to navigate, especially with kids.
Being a story of divorce, Kindred manages to balance itself as a romantic comedy while also portraying the rougher parts of a divorce quite well. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that both couples had unhealthy relationships that ultimately didn’t work. There’s definitely a bad person in each relationship, but the story manages to frame the divorce as the product of a mismatch of personalities and tackles the fallout of being in such a relationship.
Kindred is one of those shows that builds up to one pivotal scene where it all clicks on what the story is. That isn’t to say that the lead up wasn’t entertaining or engaging, but that one scene reframes the journey in a new light. Without spoiling anything, the scene in question is a long conversation between two characters navigating a first date. It bounces back and forth between awkward, sweet, funny, and serious and navigates the tone of each moment very well. It feels earned, and I never felt any whiplash from the tone changes. Nothing went by too quickly and the more serious moments were given enough space to sink in for both the characters and the audience.
I would say that the scene in question will be what makes or breaks the show for some people. The build up to that scene was necessary for it to work well, and definitely was what cemented the show as a romantic comedy. While I can see some people not getting into the show initially, or feeling that the pacing drags in places, I still enjoyed the ride up to this big scene. And afterwards there was a tone shift that was considerably lighter than the beginning.
It’s hard to pick a favorite actor in the cast, as they all bring a force of personality to their characters. Even the quieter ones like Soleil and Troy, played by Medina Hanh and Andrew McNee respectively. Stephen Lobo as Mo and Celine Stubel as Elise manage to navigate between their characters’ terrible behaviour while having a compelling charisma that makes you watch what they do next. Soleil and Troy are both physically tired but are able to match their spouses blow for blow.
Given that it’s a small cast of four, the focus is tight enough for the character dynamics to really shine when everyone is given a chance to bounce off of each other. It’s always fascinating to watch a scene and see how the power dynamic shifts between the characters from start to finish. Not one scene ends where it begins and each builds off the other.
The way Kindred handled the children was also well done. With no actors for the children, their presence is conveyed with them always off stage, or the actors talking to air with a few choice sound effects playing in the background. Since the focus is on the parents’ relationships, it works, and their presence is still felt in the story.
Overall, it’s a small story about four people with a tight focus on their relationships with each other and how those change and how they adapt. If a short romantic comedy sounds like something you want to check out, you can’t go wrong with Kindred.
Kindred runs from May 17–June 12 for in-person shows, with live streaming options running May 31–June 5. Tickets can be purchased at the Belfry Theatre’s website.