SCARRING BATTLES: Caryn Katz and Daniel Janks as the husband and wife duo.


DIRECTOR: Maralin Vanrenen

CAST: Annabel Linder, Michael De Pinna, Daniel Janks, Caryn Katz, Clayton Boyd

UNTIL: April 12


What would the world be like if we had more of a say in the make up of our children? Should they have brown hair? Do we simply pick the pretty ones? Do we want only sons or daughters? And then comes the more uncomfortable choices. What about gay genes? That’s at issue for the Gold family – a mother and father, their daughter, her husband and a gay son/brother.

Set (say the programme notes) in the early ’90s, you must cast your mind back 20 years and think of the morality at the time. At the heart of the story is a gay son who is clearly not accepted by the family, which becomes a much more fraught issue when the daughter (Katz) announces at a family do that she’s pregnant.

Her husband (Janks) is justifiably upset that she breaks the news to everyone without telling him first, but as a geneticist he’s distracted by the implications of (at the time) experimental genetic testing at his firm which can reveal many things about their unborn baby, including its future sexual orientation.

On the surface, this is a family involved in each other’s lives, but it soon becomes clear that the dynamics are much less kosher. They’re not an easy bunch to like except for the gay brother (Boyd) who, as an opera scenic painter, draws parallels between his family and Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle which he tries desperately to explain to them without any effect.

Mother (Linder) and father (De Pinna) are struggling with their gay son, but mostly they deal in negative statistics (Aids which was a death sentence at the time) or turning away from the reality of his life.

While daughter and husband are celebrating their third anniversary, the son, whose third anniversary is weeks away, has been invited to the celebrations without his partner.

Throw into the mix the possibility of having a gay child and the family disintegrates rapidly.

It’s not an easy topic or play. There is an old-fashioned feel to the proceedings as the individuals step out of the reality of the family to share their feelings with the audience and for that moment they seem to be sharing real emotions while stripping their lives.

In the context of the family and the way the play is written, it is the actors who have to bring the characters to life. If they don’t invest in these somewhat superficial people, it’s a tough premise to buy.

Boyd as the opera-crazy David is the moral centre as he reaches outto the family to embrace exactly who he is, but his performance is hit and miss. And it is especially in the operatic sequences when he could lose himself in his passion and grab the attention of those watching to concentrate their attention on the meaning of life, that he could do so much more. The music works beautifully, but the lights are a distraction.

For much of especially the more emotive encounters between the family struggling to come to terms with who they are and what they stand for, the pain of losing a child, for example, should be more explosive. The devastation should be palpable. It feels as if it is all happening on the surface.

To make this one work, we should believe their battle, beliefs and the pain.

If you’re still faltering with names, that’s going to be the issue, not what the character is feeling.

There are some quality moments and performances, (Linder’s bravura interpretation, De Pinna’s father who reaches out in all the wrong ways) but as a group, they’re still faltering.