Sins Borne

Absolutely implausible and performed implausibly too: there are moments where Sins Borne’s premise works but they are too sparse.

There’s a modicum of ballsiness but there’s no good way of channeling it.

EJ’s a crusty old hermit: a widower shut off from the world and the tumult of societal change. His estranged son, Barry, comes to see him. The TV’s on - it’s showing footage of a Black Lives Matter protest. Then it goes insane. The plot fuses Charles Manson, white supremacists and remote-detonated bombs in a church. It’s a thriller, tackling racism.

That’s a lot for a stripped down, two-man show in a tiny venue. I like the temerity, most importantly because it shows that the tenor of Hollywood can be found in something very small, but the thing’s got too weak a constitution. It’s not great and that’s mainly due to the bizarre acting.

John Baldwin’s EJ, for instance, is nicely gruff and offhand but doesn’t react appropriately when the stakes are ratcheted up. For example, there’s a terrorist situation, and he seems pretty cool about it. Lance Fuller, on the other hand, is properly sociopathic as Barry, though he also bungles lines, especially the ham-fisted, anti-racist ones.

There’s a white supremacist in this play, plus a man who is racist in a more provincial manner. The draws of the script are in the message: obviously anti-racist, but the audience knows the play itself isn’t racist, so it’s unnecessary to tell us of this fact in the dialogue. Using the ‘n-word’ demands an extreme level of care, but when that care deflates the drama, it’s clear they shouldn’t have said it.

Not much else to say about Sins Borne, because it’s so plot-thick that I can’t comment on its race dynamics and the father-son relationship. It’s just a little limp all around. There’s a modicum of ballsiness but there’s no good way of channeling it. 

Reviews by Oliver Simmonds

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★★★
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The Blurb

Ever since EJ’s wife died, his only comfort has come in seclusion. Numbed to world events, he’s only vaguely aware of the racial strife raging outside his door. That comfort is shattered forever when his son Barry shows up, after many years on the run. Barry bears a gift that promises to redeem EJ and change the world but instead only shows how easily lies told can become sins borne.

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