This summer’s Queer Season at the King’s Head Theatre kicks off with Shaun Kitchener’s comedy-drama All That, directed by King’s Head Junior Artistic Director, James Callas Ball.
Young Riley (Chris Jenkins) and Taylor (Jordan Laviniere) have been together for 10 years, living a comfortable life in their modest home. When finances become strained they hesitantly rent out their spare room to couple Jamie (Imran Adams) and Parker (Matt Greenwood). And it’s not long before they learn that their new housemates are in an open relationship, triggering events that test their alliances to their foundations.
There’s some amusing moments of Queer humour throughout that will satisfy the demographic this work targets. Laviniere doesn’t miss a beat with his timing and mannerisms, and the rest of the ensemble show promise. Greenwood evokes the audience well during the latter half as Parker reveals details about their mental health struggles; sensitively played and suitably nuanced.
The story includes other important contemporary commentary, such as Parker revealing they had once been a teaching assistant but was forced to leave for being openly non-binary. They discuss the hurt felt at seeing parents protesting at the school gates. This has been a real-life problem for some schools in recent times, in response to the new and mandatory RSE curriculum.
Despite what the play does well, I found the believability of Kitchener’s characters a challenge, none more so than Taylor who is a bit of a camp assassin. The dialogue and language communicates a character experienced in ‘gay lifestyles’ and yet in other moments, he is written as prudish. This didn’t feel well harmonised to this reviewer. I also found the idea of a debate around open relationships within the LGBT+ community a bit tricky – I’ve been on the scene myself for a very long time and have yet to meet anyone within it who gives a jot if they meet someone who is in an open relationship.
These issues aside, if you’re looking for a jam packed 90 minutes of comedy blended with moments of high drama, you’ll likely enjoy All That. If you do decide to give it a go, bear in mind it’s an all through performance – be sure to take a drink in with you.
Written by: Shaun Kitchener
Directed by: James Callàs Ball
Produced by: Tom O’Connell on behalf of King’s Head Theatre
All That is playing at King’s Head Theatre until 21 August. More information and booking via the below link.