With a plotline exploring important topics like same-sex parenting, surrogacy and genetic history I had high hopes for Passing On. Unfortunately, these were not met, and I was disappointed by this production.
The acting was either melodramatic or nonchalant
The play, put together by Blue Heart Theatre Company and Acting Out Theatre Group, follows Tom (Steve Kenneally) and Brian (Brian Gaughran), a couple in their thirties who desperately want to have a child. Their friend Jane (Rachel Fayne) kindly decides to act as their surrogate although there is debate over who will be the father since Tom is an adopted child and knows little of his ancestry and to whether he is a carrier of any hereditary diseases. As Tom delves deeper into his past his relationship with Brian is tested.
One of the main issues I took with this production was the believability. I couldn’t invest in Tom and Brian’s relationship as I wasn’t convinced by either of the actors’ performances. The couple’s marriage had no depth as neither Kenneally or Gaughran fully embodied the love for each other. I found it slightly awkward since neither of the actors really absorbed the emotion needed to carry the piece. Lots of the acting was either melodramatic or nonchalant; as an audience member I didn’t feel like I was getting an insight into Tom and Brian’s lives, I was instead aware that I was watching a play. Considering there were extremely serious moments within the piece, for example the doctor (Shane Kavanagh) would be discussing Tom’s health, the actors would speak with a tone of indifference rather than sensitivity – which I found very odd.
Ultimately, the blame cannot be fully placed on the actors as the script was partially at fault. I felt that the language used was so artificial, the conversations were obviously constructed in order to move the play on. There were moments within the dialogue that felt awkward just because people don’t speak to each other in such a rigid way.
It was only during the final, intense scenes where Tom and Brian argue about Tom’s health that I was able to connect with it. From these scenes onwards came the most realistic acting in the whole play, almost as if it had taken them the majority of the earlier scenes to fully get into character. The most emotional part is the ending, which is disappointing because if the acting was as convincing as it was in the last scene it would have been a much stronger production overall.