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Review: Holy Sh!t, at Kiln Theatre

Inaugural production at the refashioned Tricycle has a dig at middle-class attitudes towards class, race and religion

13 September, 2018 — By Howard Loxton

Daon Broni and Daniel Lapaine in Holy Sh!t. Photo: Mark Douet

IT is amazing what middle-class parents will do to get their children in to a particular school, like Simone and Sam for four-year-old Milly in Alexis Zegerman’s new play.

They have the best school in the borough at the end of their road but it’s a C of E school and they are Jewish.

When Simone decides they’ll become regular churchgoers at St Mary’s, their Anglican friends Juliet and Nick, who hope to send their daughter Sophie to the same school, find it surprising, even improper. Want to guess which child actually gets there?

Simone doesn’t want to send Millie to private school. Apart from the cost they want her to “mix with real kids”. “As long as it’s the right type of real kid,” comments Nick (who is black and knows discrimination first hand).

That’s typical of the way this often funny play digs at middle-class attitudes not just about class but about race and religion too, uncovering unacknowledged prejudice as it explores the effect on both marriages and the collapse of long-lasting friendship into savage anger.

Dorothea Myer-Bennett sings soaring hymns between scenes as Robert Jones’s set goes through its multiple changes, making Simone louder than the rest of the congregation to make sure her presence is noted.

Daniel Lapaine’s Sam seems more laid back until Claire Goose’s Juliet, stressed by her failure to get pregnant again, sparks a real fight between the two families. But it is Daon Broni’s Nick who gets the last word with a call to all parents. He’s been a dedicated teacher but says it’s the pushy parents that need to do better.

Indhu Rubasingham’s inaugural production at the refashioned Tricycle starts off bright and satirical but it doesn’t pull its punches. Whatever you feel about the theatre’s renaming, the building is welcoming in appearance, provides 62 more (and more comfortable) seats, all with good sightlines, wheelchair places on entrance level and more toilets and technical provisions that make it future-proof for a time to come. It has been a bold rethink ready for what is promised will be a bold programme of new work.

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