Kith @ Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Primal Dream Theatre ask us how we find our way home when we don’t know our origins in new play Kith, a far-from-linear modern folktale
Truth is often difficult to find within folklore, where it's hidden behind illusionary metaphors. Sometimes, however, a talented storyteller can excavate the elusive bugger. Adam Gordon's Kith is a modern folklore tale which tells us the story of Glasgow-born Dani (Adam Greene), the son of a migrant mother who shrouds her past. After her passing, Dani sets out to uncover her origins along with his own.
This isn't all, though – the narrative writhes and twists in on itself. To begin we are introduced to Adam, a young purveyor of stories. This time the story isn’t finished yet. His dreams of Dani spark a desire to poke into what is unanswered. In the end, Adam tells us about Dani, who, in turn, seeks the truth about his mother.
Falling on its own sword, Kith suffers from a notion it directly addresses: intangible stories without endings. Individually, the overall narrative has elements more similar to skits or scenes. Separately, almost any one of these are fragments of genius; together, these fragments are lost in the dark waters of convolution. Some pages of folklore graze against one another, the transition of time or character communicated well. Other points suffer from leaps of unexpected perceptions. We’re not entirely sure if we're seeing Dani, his mother, Adam or a being entirely unearthly.
Greene’s performance is fitting for Primal Dream Theatre; the presentation is visceral, almost violent at times. His entire existence is given to these characters in these precise moments. His ability to move the audience's sense of location and time is impressive but outshined by his ability to personify abstract concepts of mortality, war, folklore and love.
The in-house technical team for Primal Dream Theatre helps to focus on modern fascinations and notions of identity, immigration, isolation and the shape of violence and bigotries. Sound design boosts Greene’s impact, especially in an intense scene following suicide – the revving sounds of the human mind amidst flickering lights underscore Greene’s performance as he ‘restarts’ into the next scene.
Ambition is an admirable feat, which will pay off for Kith in time. Its performance components are honed, delivering powerful emotion. At times poetically written, there’s merit in crafting a story within a story… within a story. But the multi-layered narrative needs ironing out with clearer structure.
Kith @ Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh, run ended