ALTHOUGH At Birth doesn’t reveal its true heart for a while, this play is as tender as a balmy summer’s night in West London.
Thought-provoking, deep and superbly acted, it deserves more than a five-night run at the perfectly formed Barons Court Theatre on the outskirts of Kensington. Ten would be better. Yes, it’s that bloody good (admittedly, it is going on to be performed in Europe and the United States).
Co-written by Ty Autry and Thalia Gonzalez Kane, it is centred around a relationship between two gays – Isaac (played by Autry) and Anna (Thalia Gonzalez Kane) who live in Atlanta, United States. They’re besties, they’re young and attractive – and they like their sex and booze. Isaac is the extrovert, Anna less so.
It all starts rather drunkenly at Isaac’s flat as a mix of shots and wine are consumed – leading to conversations about childhood loves and recent break-ups.
Although Isaac rather inelegantly describes himself as a ‘raging’ bottom, it doesn’t stop the besties taking their relationship to a new – and unexpected – level. Anna leads the way – Isaac, initially more talk than trousers, although he soon gets in his stride.
That surprise is soon followed by another – Anna is pregnant as a result.
It’s at this point that the play starts to grip as the butt hole jokes and the writhing on the floor are replaced by a discussion about the serious journey they potentially could be embarking upon.
First, the accusations – why didn’t you wear a condom (Isaac’s response, involving his mother, is hilarious).
Then, should we go for an abortion or not (set in Atlanta, a woman has less time to abort than she has to return an Amazon package)?
There are plenty of other u-turns along the way (especially from Anna), but it’s the development of the characters that is most striking, as well as the intensity of their relationship. It’s all rather beautiful, complex and deep. Yes, and all rather tender.
For all his sexual bravado at the start, Isaac turns out to be a rather caring young soul who can’t wait to be a Dad. Anna is a little more complex, but it’s their besties bond that ultimately triumphs. As Isaac says: ‘I’ve got you always and forever.’
Directed by Melissa Foulger, At Birth is a vignette of a play that is perfectly suited to the tight confines of the Barons Court Theatre. Props are few and far between (Isaac’s hideous unicorn neck pillow is a standout) and at just over 60 minutes long, At Birth maintains a fair lick.
Rather good. No. Bloody good. See it (preferably armed with a drink from the bar), and enjoy it. Then debate it over a meal (the pub does some excellent food). The makings of a good night out, I would say. Bring your own unicorn if you like.
At Birth plays until May 20. https://www.baronscourttheatre.com/
Photos by Mike Glatzer