No Kids Is Proof That 'Gay Theatre' Still Has Something New To Say

No Kids, Battersea Arts Centre ★★★☆☆

By Mike C Last edited 18 months ago

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No Kids Is Proof That 'Gay Theatre' Still Has Something New To Say No Kids, Battersea Arts Centre 3

George and Nir want a baby, and in 75 minutes, they’ll tell you why. Choreographed to the music of Madge (who else?) and channelling just a little Legz Akimbo, this tale of adventures in parenting the gay way is earnest, silly, concerned, funny, and slightly infuriating: can’t these guys make up their minds? What’s the problem? Disco pecs, designer pad, muscled boyfriend, hot job in the arts, and now the baby — the modern gay man’s life is mapped out as a succession of must-haves. But is it really?

Because it’s not all that straightforward, as George and Nir explore — and they’re not quite the self-obsessed millennial queens they first appear. We start with the surrogacy vs adoption row and it goes from there: what if the baby grows up and doesn’t like them? What if he abuses them? What if she has a vagina that they can’t explain the working of it to her? How about the environment — isn’t the best way to protect the planet to have fewer children? How about the “very demanding house guest who never goes away?” Suddenly, having a baby isn’t just a lifestyle choice like buying a new SUV. This is a shock to the system.

This tale of planned (un)parenthood for the 'me generation' is given added poignancy as our two heroes are actually sharing real-life dilemmas they're facing. It's brave of them to expose so much in front of  a live — if almost entirely sympathetic — audience, and the truthful twist makes it worth the trip to Battersea, because otherwise, as Nir observes, it might be “just another coming out story, and nobody wants to hear another of those.”

On the way out, we debate how much it added to the sum of our understanding. At a time when equality seems to have been achieved, isn’t 'gay theatre' a bit passé? On the basis of No Kids, it still has something to say. For heterosexuals it’s still pretty easy to start a family; for gay men — and others outside the mainstream — less so, and this explores the homophobia, difficulties with officialdom, fertility issues and lifestyle changes that a gay couple face when taking on such a responsibility.

At times it’s a bit too 80s agit-prop for its own good (the suggestion, not then explored, of priestly child abuse, felt like trying an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach), but ultimately these are likeable guys struggling with the modern world and not really coming to a definite answer. And most of us can relate to that.

No Kids, Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN. Tickets £12.50-18, until 23 February 2019.  

Last Updated 11 February 2019