Writer: Tom Spencer
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
The Public Reviews Rating:
Gentle and insightful, Tom Spencer’s debut play, Firing Blanks, is essentially a dialogue between two strangers who meet on a park bench. Richard (Robin Mcloughlin) has just found out he is infertile, and in spite of his instincts opens up to Holly Beasley-Garrigan’s teenaged Kate who is in the park feeding the ducks. She poses some uncomfortable questions and makes Richard think again about the decisions he is making around using a sperm donor and whether or not to be honest with his child.
Shot through with atmospheric integral music performed by Spencer, the piece utilises direct address, skilful puppetry and physical theatre to tell the story. Beasley-Garrigan is a little old for the role, however she still gives a winning performance as Kate who is wise beyond her years and inquisitive by nature. Likewise Mcloughlin is a sympathetic, sensitive and likeable character – a man emasculated and fearful that biology will prevent him from being a ‘real’ father to his unborn child.
Drawing on his own knowledge of being donor conceived, Spencer has interspersed the telling dialogue with pauses and movement that prevent the piece from becoming static or staid. Although it is not clear why Richard would confide in Kate in the first place, the relationship develops into one that is quite touching and meaningful as the play progresses, with both revealing their innermost fears. A thoughtful play that seeks to examine the true nature of fatherhood, Firing Blanks is a nuanced piece that will both move you and make you think.
Until 25th August