Theatre Review: Kvetch at the King’s Head Theatre

Neuroses boil over in this physical comedy by award-winning Steven Berkoff

“Kvetch” means a complaint, or person who complains, and Stephen Berkoff’s play of this name contains plenty of both. It follows three main characters: Frank, a frustrated salesman; Donna, his put-upon wife; and Hal, Frank’s lonely colleague.

The play begins with Frank and Donna’s attempt to entertain Hal at a dinner party, and introduces the insecurities of the characters. Frank is terrified that he cannot carry a conversation or tell a joke; Donna is uncomfortable about the meal she has cooked; and Hal worries that his hosts will notice his desperate loneliness.

In the second half of the play these insecurities are explored further, with each character attempting to resolve their anxieties – but often through self-destructive or doomed behaviour.

The King’s Head production is enlivened by excellent performances. Dickie Beau’s Hal is a brilliant creation, both amusing and sympathetic, while Josh Cole, as Frank, is an energetic and believable central character.

Unfortunately the production cannot solve the play’s main deficiencies, particularly that – with the exception of Hal – none of the characters are especially likeable. Frank is the backbone of the play but his problems and “kvetches” are tiresome from the very beginning.

The play is also uneven in its pace, with the first half taking place over an evening and the second apparently occurring over several weeks. The lack of action initially drags, but the speed of events in the second half bewilders.

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Despite the tiresome characters, this play is recommended for the quality of the acting on show.

* Kvetch is running at the King’s Head Theatre, in Upper Street, N1, until Friday, November 4.