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All His Beloved Children (Review)

Rating:

I thought “a comedy about creation myths – this is right down Mum’s alley”. But, All His Beloved Children is an experience, albeit ideally watched without one’s mother.

The play is a dark comedy homage to creation myths focused upon a family grieving death. Directed by Amelia Burke, it is at once fantastical, wry and shocking.

When Yamuna (Kavina Shah) dies unexpectedly drowns, the archetypal patriarch Habil (Sam Hayes), dutiful mother Isis (Melissa Gan) and devoted and naïve son Achimi (Lukas Radovich) begin grieving. The arrival of the uninhibited estranged Cain (Tel Benjamin) inflames tensions, exposes rifts and reveals the underbelly of our archetypal characters. Not everything is as it seems.

Firstly, KXT on Broadway is a stellar new venue. It is an intimate space breaking down th
separation between stage and audience and was an amazing setting for All His Beloved
Children.

The writing is mildly disjointed, like a tale of two plays. In the first half, the play establishes
complex characters and relations reaching a narrative crescendo but flips and devolves into a
remarkable farce-like spiral of visceral shock and horror. Shocking an audience can be a little
cheap but the play manages to skirt the line though only narrowly. The breaking of taboos is
supposed to be gratuitous; I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt that my little mind
struggled to extend beyond the viscerality and focus on the substantive narrative didactic
elements.

There is a definite impression that the play was masterly orchestrated by Burke and the
production team. Everything was meticulously thought through with an attention to detail
from the set design, props, lighting and blocking. The set, sound and lighting appeared
effortlessly minimal and had a commendable role in allowing the writing to come through.
This level of execution is rare and deserves particular commendation.

The actors worked cohesively to deliver a superb performance, they were exceptionally wel
cast. Particular note to Kavina Shah whose ability to communicate through pure movement
was astounding. Interactions between the cast were sharp though not always precise, however
this is to be expected on the first night of previews.

This play requires exceptional acting and directorship to pull off without making the
significant shock value feel tacky. It succeeded. It is a remarkable achievement to make an
audience simultaneously laugh and recoil. Take your friends, not your mother.

All His Beloved Children makes its world premiere at KXT on Broadway on 11 May.

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