(Charles Spencer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 11/28.)
Over the years the Bush Theatre has established a deserved reputation for plays about the small change of everyday lives, idiosyncratic works that are at once warm, fresh, comic and quirky. Tom Wells’s wonderful new piece The Kitchen Sink is undoubtedly part of that tradition, but it also cuts surprisingly deep, blessed with both tenderness and a beautiful sense of tentative hope.
The piece is set in the faded Yorkshire seaside resort of Withernsea, described by the resilient mother of the family as “a very good place to come from. Cos it’s knackered and funny and it’s falling in the sea.”
In the course of the play, which follows its characters through a year, it looks as though the family too is going to crumble into despondency and chaos.
The father, Martin, is a milkman who loves his job, but his float is decrepit and customers keep cancelling because they can get everything they need from Tesco. Their gay son Billy – one of the delightful things about the piece is that the rest of his family entirely accept his sexuality – wins a place at a London art college, but worries about whether it will work out, especially when he discovers that the lecturers view his portrait of Dolly Parton as rigorous examination of kitsch, whereas he has merely affectionately painted a woman he loves.