Genesis Inc at the Hampstead Theatre
Genesis Inc is a transparent lecture on the monetisation of infertility and the pressure placed upon women to reproduce – and somewhere in there is a decent play. However, that play is sabotaged by Jemma Kennedy’s unfounded need to make this piece as thematically broad and experimental as possible.
The drama starts off promisingly; Jeff and Serena are at a private fertility clinic, trying to conceive after suffering umpteen miscarriages. The former already has a daughter from a previous relationship and doesn’t seem too keen. Banker and career-woman Bridget is having some eggs frozen and convinces the clinic’s owner to allow her bank to float his stock. Her best friend and ex-lover Miles, a gay music teacher trying to get on the property ladder, is tempted by Bridget’s offer to help him with a deposit in exchange for a couple of his best swimmers.
This could all be left to simmer and eventually reduce into a strong ensemble piece, but instead, the playwright decides to over-season this already jam-packed concoction. Jeff is also a social worker whose most recent charge is an unlikely working-class woman, who pays her partner not to hit her while bemoaning the ignorance of the bourgeoisie. Miles is also working in a Catholic school and tries to convince a priest that he is aligned to his faith, despite being half-Jewish. Jeff and Serena are black and South Asian, respectively, and argue about for whom life is harder. There is a small conversation about the true definition of rape, and by the time Serena’s vagina starts talking to her, Kennedy has probably lost half of her audience
Nevertheless, this piece keeps on keeping on. There’s disco dancing, Susan Sontag and Karl Marx make an appearance, there’s a biblical flashback and the whole thing ends on this dreadfully syrupy original song about how any group of people can be a family as long as there is love. Pass the bucket.
It’s not all bad. Arthur Darvill and Laura Howard are very believable as the dysfunctional co-dependent pseudo-couple and the script has moments that are witty and heartfelt.
But besides this, this is a production that flails and wails and then eventually tires itself out and falls rather sheepishly flat. The rest of the performances border on wooden and Harry Enfield, the big-name draw, is underused as Dr Marshall.
Despite its better moments, one will spend most of Genesis Inc unmoved, unconvinced and wondering what went wrong.
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Genesis Inc is at the Hampstead Theatre from 22nd June until 28th July 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.