No Kids – Contact Theatre (The Lowry)

Choosing to start a family and to have children is a monumental, life-changing decision. For LGBT couples, this is further complicated by having to choose how to have a baby, whether through adoption, fostering or surrogacy. There are a host of different choices available to aspiring parents, but which one is best? In No Kids, real-life partners, George Mann and Nir Paldi, discuss the various options available to them, deliberating the difficulties and delights of becoming same-sex parents.

George Mann and Nir Paldi. Photo Credit – Alex Brenner.

There is an undeniable universality to No Kids that makes the play relatable to all audience members, not just those of the LGBT community. Every parent’s hopes and worries are brilliantly translated to stage, as Mann and Paldi dream of the future with their child. First steps, the first day of school, exams, homework, going to university, having a successful job. These hopes are all depicted in this play. So too are the fears, which every parent will identify with. What if our child becomes violent? What if the baby isn’t a perfectly healthy baby? What if they have health conditions? What if they get bullied at school for having two dads?

Mann and Paldi share a strong working relationship as co-artistic directors of Ad Infinitum, although this is the first collaborative project between them, usually preferring to work independently. Staged like a rehearsal workshop, No Kids feels refreshingly informal and intimate, with an improvisational quality. It soon becomes apparent that this is simply a façade, as the play is planned and executed to precision.

Nir Paldi and George Mann. Photo Credit – Alex Brenner

With vibrant, imaginative story-telling, choreographed dance routines, and songs, it is evident that Mann and Paldi are gifted dramatists. The torrent of intrusive questions asked by adoption agencies prompts an autobiographical exploration of their own childhoods, mainly told through dance and song. Realisation of sexuality and coming out to parents is brilliantly told to the soundtrack of Madonna’s Like A Virgin.

However, their creative story-telling is most impressive when the environmental cost of having a child is inventively rendered through an extensive shopping list of all the items you need to buy for a newborn, sung to the tune of Madonna’s Vogue. It is impressive how Mann and Paldi are able to express significant subject matters, through such entertaining dramatic devices, that lend No Kids a lighthearted, uplifting tone. This is a hugely enjoyable play to watch.

George Mann and Nir Paldi. Photo Credit – Alex Brenner

My only criticism of No Kids comes from the countless arguments that ensue as a result of their discussions around becoming parents. Although realistically depicting the strain that having a baby can cause to a relationship, the arguments become a little cyclical and repetitive. It feels almost like every discussion ends with an argument.

However, this doesn’t negate from the fact that No Kids is a universal, yet unique exploration of parenthood, creatively told from the perspective of LGBT couples. Always entertaining and thought-provoking, No Kids was worth the wait, after being postponed due to illness.

I left the theatre certain that Mann and Paldi would both make fantastic parents!

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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