Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review: Breeders at the St James Theatre

St James Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 8th September 2014

A lesbian couple wish to start a family. Put off by the potential problems surrounding adoption, Andrea asks her brother Jimmy to be a sperm donor. After talking Jimmy and his girlfriend round, the four all move in together. Ben Ockrent's brilliantly awkward play brings the silliness of light-hearted sitcoms to the stage.

On paper Andrea's idea makes perfect sense; however, it turns out to be a recipe for disaster. As Breeders enters its second act a darker turn is taken and the situation spirals into a complete and utter mess. Ockrent's writing is incredibly refreshing - it makes such a nice change to see something so modern delving into a topic which is relevant in society yet rarely reflected in theatre.

A strong ensemble of four carry the show, with the strongest performance coming from Jemima Rooper as Jimmy's girlfriend Sharon who brings the most interesting dynamic to the piece. With Jimmy's attention turning to providing daily sperm samples for his sister, Sharon is left feeling rejected. Rooper also has the strongest comic timing, stealing all the biggest laughs.

Between scenes the audience are treated to short musical interludes - including Christmas songs performed in Swedish. These don't always work and sometimes are a little too strange and out of place, but last night it was Rooper's rendition of 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' which brought the house down.

Angela Griffin and Tamzin Outhwaite give fine performances as the lesbian couple whilst Nicholas Burns' comical performance as Jimmy proves popular. I wouldn't be surprised if Burns landed a starring role in the next big TV sitcom. 

Breeders is not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but I certainly think it interestingly reaches out to a different audience. Some will find themselves feeling hot and awkward whilst others with cackle the night away. Although Tamara Harvey's production should not be taken too seriously, it does delve into an interesting topic which other playwrights and producers have shied away from, so bravo to Vicky Graham Productions, Tom O'Connell and the St James Theatre for  putting on something a little bit different! 

Reviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Breeders runs at the St James Theatre until Saturday 4th October 2014.
Visit www.stjamestheatre.co.uk for info and tickets.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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