I always remember my daughter’s first word. She was almost six months old and it was 6 January – Epiphany – my cousin J, his boyfriend C and I were in my mum and dad’s electric pink lounge (sounds awful; it was lush in reality). C was holding my baby on his lap, she looked up at him and said ‘Abba”. OK, it’s not strictly a word but, oh, the serendipity of it all – referencing that fab pop group when being coo-cooed by two gay men (‘aba’ means ‘daddy’ in Hebrew so it all makes perfect sense, actually).
12 years on, I sit with the same cousin to watch No Kids at the Tobacco Factory’s Spielman Theatre. Nir Paldi and George Mann, the founding members of Bristol’s award winning theatre company, Ad Infinitum, are a real life couple who, used to working on their own projects within the company, decided to write, direct and perform together a new play about their desire (or not) to start their own family. No Kids is the uplifting, tear invoking, argument making result.
Nir, from Isreal, will be Aba (hurrah!) and George, UK, will be Daddy when, if, they have children. While I’m not suggesting that all heterosexual couples pop out sprogs without careful consideration, those who are physically able to procreate with each other are more likely to conceive ‘accidents’ or ‘not planned but we’re really happy about it’ kids. If all couples have a lot of if and buts and whys to take into account pre-family, a same sex couple has even more to think about and George and Nir have certainly grappled with most of them. Fantasy pregnancies, surrogacy, adoption? Are we good enough to be parents? What about bullying? Just imagine how fabulous our child will be! Will he be a sociopath? Some of the scenarios are way out there, ensuring that humour is at the forefront of those life changing polemics.
This is theatre that will make you laugh out loud, wince and wipe your eyes. It is a brave undertaking with sharp writing, where hugely serious issues are spliced with a fun and levity that will have you shaking your thing for hours. If you love Madonna, as our hosts do, you will adore their rewritings of some of her classic songs (it’s close to genius). There is plenty of camp here too – a colourful set, racks of bright clothes, a penchant for dressing up, awesome dance routines, incredible energy and physicality plus plenty of suggestive eye-rolling (beautiful sparkly ones to boot).
J said he found the teenage reminiscences of growing up gay hard-hitting and close to home. I recognised a lot of the pain, joy and worry surrounding parenthood. This is a well studied piece of theatre that I absolutely loved and have been quick to recommend to my theatre going friends. The time flew by far too quickly so I might have to go again to get another fix. And you should at least go once.
No Kids runs at Tobacco Factory Spielman Theatre until 9th March
Image by Alex Brenner, with thanks