A fast pace and some hilarious banter about their names, how to pronounce and spell them, gets Barry McStay’s Breeding off to an immediately engaging and rip-roaring start that says, “You’re going to be in for a treat,” and it does not disappoint.

A tremendously enjoyable and moving tragi-comedy

Not only did Barry McStay write the play, he also plays Eoin who has a chance encounter with Zeb, played by Dan Nicholson. You can have some fun with friends on the very precise enunciation of their handles. The two of them ooze that casual and endearing bonhomie that makes you want to immediately be part of their social set, not that we know anything about their mates, because this hour or so is tightly focussed on the overriding concern of the two guys and their relationship with the woman who can fulfill or thwart their burning ambition. No time is wasted on getting to the heart of the matter. There’s a chance meeting, nervous introductions, an impassioned snog and before you know it they've moved in with each other and have been married for two years.

In their settled existence they have everything except a family and so they decide to embark on what turns out to be the tortuous path of adopting a child. As they point out, the ease with which straight couples can breed and churn out sprogs seems highly irresponsible compared to the hurdles or tests, examinations, interviews and determinations for worthiness and suitability that people trying to adopt have go through and that’s before you filter in the the gay ingredient. They are confident, however, that their balanced relationship will provide the perfect environment for a child to grow up in. Zeb will be the fun daddy and Eoin will be the serious daddy. All they have to do now is to persuade Beth, the social worker, and those behind her on the boards, committees and assessment panels who make the decision. Aamira Challenger is charming and empathetic, sensitively guiding them through the process, herself knowing how protracted, intrusive and frustrating it can be. As they progress through the stages the couple become increasingly close to her.

But how will it all end? Well, this is not simply a play about how the adoption system works, though it provides an educational insight into that. With a couple of twists, it turns into a deeply moving drama that confronts tragedy and welcomes redemption. Director Matthew Iliffe navigates this path with sensitivity and draws out performances from a trio that is well-cast, thanks to Casting Consultant, Nadine Rennie CDG, and who manage the dynamics of the script in a way that flows from the comedy to the functional narrative and through the complex denouement without jarring.

The team of creatives is also clearly in tune with his vision. Intimacy Director Jess Tucker-Boyd has clearly given the cast the security and ease of working together that allows for the generation of emotional intensity, and inevitably Sound Designer Julian Starr, reflects and enhances the moods and transitions unobtrusively yet supportively, working in harmony with Lighting Designer Ryan Joseph Stafford who achieves the same results. Add a simple, functional set and credible costumes from Ceci Calf and the smooth work of Stage Manager Lamesha Ruddock and you have a production that oozes accomplishment in every department.

McStay’s success here follows on from his triumph in Vespertilio and puts him in that happy band of writers to look out for, but it's the director, actors and creative team who have fashioned his vision for Breeding into a tremendously enjoyable and moving tragi-comedy.

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The Blurb

"We’re not the new normal. We’re the new fucking extraordinary." Zeb & Eoin have met, kissed, fallen in love, moved in, got married... What’s next? Zeb will be Fun Daddy. Eoin will be Serious Daddy. Beth’s job is to decide if they get to be Daddies at all. Together they navigate the exposing road to adoption, forced to lay bare fears and secrets, all in the hope of being deemed "appropriate" parents. Breeding is a funny, moving drama about parenthood, queer families & enduring love.

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