Should we have kids? It’s a difficult question, but one that becomes even more complex when you’re a gay couple, and have to grapple with a whole cavalcade of unique problems completely unknown to a straight couple. It is this dilemma that is the animating question at the heart of Ad Infinitum’s new production No Kids, a show that expertly mixes ridiculous humour and gut-wrenching heartbreak to dive into the dark heart of the murky and under-considered topic of gay parenthood.
The show feels like therapy in action
Performed by real-life couple George Mann and Nir Paldi, the show has no real through narrative; rather it is a collection of interconnected scenes or thoughts, all variations on the same theme of what being a parent means for a gay couple and all of the challenges that brings along. Their decision to eschew a conventional theatrical narrative and to frame what the audience witness as almost a brainstorming session for the show we are currently watching allows them to avoid presenting easily digestible moral lessons or messages. Instead the show feels like therapy in action, with the couple constantly second guessing themselves and their views, working through their fears and imaging the best and worst possible outcomes of any decision they make. There is a beautiful sense of honesty in this ambiguity that reflects the true struggle that all prospective gay couples have to go through, that never being entirely sure that you are doing the right thing, and the lingering fear in the back of your head that you have made a huge mistake and are just going to hurt the child you aimed to love. The ambiguity at the heart of the play does mean that occasionally the show does get frustrating in its refusal to commit itself to a position, but the performers are always able to make this indecision relatable and understandable to the audience, and by the end we too are sucked in and made to question our preconceived notions of parenthood.
The show, however, wisely avoids descending into naval gazing, and makes sure to pepper the proceedings with moments of laugh out loud comedy and an up beat sense of camp energy. This keeps proceedings bouncy and fun when they need to be and allows the performance to have enough emotional range so as when the play sucker punches you with heart rending moments of emotional vulnerability in brutally dissecting the worst fears of parenthood.
No Kids is a beautiful, fun and incredibly poignant show that delves deep into the heart of a contested and difficult issue and looks at it with wit, charm, and shattering honesty. In an age where, perhaps for the first time in modern history, gay people might openly walk as parents, a show like this is a much needed piece of therapy to air all of our secretly held fears, and offer a potential for change in the future.