Honest Pint Theatre Company is currently presenting the second North American production of The Herd by Rory Kinnear, during a three-week run at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre. This must-see show made its U.S. debut in 2015 at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago.
The Herd wonderfully depicts a typical family living through the trials and tribulations in dealing with a severely mentally and physically handicapped relative. Written by British character actor Rory Kinnear, the story unfolds as the mother and sister of Andy wait for his caregiver to bring him home from his place of care for his 21st birthday party. The stress and guilt of living with this situation becomes evident quickly as more guests arrive.
Kinnear builds the drama through delaying the ailing Andy’s arrival. His mother, Carol, is brilliantly portrayed by Honest Pint co-artistic director Susannah Hough. She deftly navigates through the stress of the day and the simmering burdens of the previous two decades. Carol’s daughter (and Andy’s older sister) Claire is the first to arrive on the scene. This role is done beautifully by Jess Barbour.
Carol’s parents, Patricia and Brian (played by Lenore Field and Paul Newell), are next to arrive. The pair provides most of the comedy threaded throughout the play, making for an extremely realistic and familiar family dynamic. Both performances are first-rate, although Field is particularly delightful as the pushy and passionate grandmother.
Daniel Wilson portrays Claire’s new boyfriend Mark, who is meeting everyone for the first time. He embodies the feelings of the audience members as they voyeuristically watch the layers of emotion from the family being laid bare before their eyes. The boiling point is reached with the arrival of the final cast member, Simon Kaplan, as Ian, Carol’s ex-husband and the father of both Claire and Andy.
The brilliance of this play is in the incredibly realistic dialog and interactions of the characters. The direction by Honest Pint founder and co-artistic director David Henderson is flawless. The set is perfect as well. Even the costumes sucked the audience into the experience.
The author based the story partially on his own life as he has lived with an older sister with similarly serious issues. Playwright Rory Kinnear also leaves Andy off of the stage so as not to distract the audience or detract from the tension.
The only minor criticism that I have regarding the play concerns three short scenes during which the characters can no longer contain their emotions. The three explosions between wife and ex, ex and daughter, and daughter and mother are all raw and well written and acted. Even so, they are obviously coming, and I just felt that the brewing of the storms and aftermaths of them is somewhat more compelling.
As usual, I was disappointed by the turnout for opening night. NRACT is a beautiful little theater, with less than 100 comfortable seats that provide spectacular intimacy with the cast. A full-price ticket cost the same as an eight-piece fill-up meal at your local KFC®. I assure you that the ticket will provide for a much better and more edifying experience.
SECOND OPINION: Jan. 23rd Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview Byron Woods: https://indyweek.com/events/honest-pint-theatre-presents-the-herd/; and Jan. 22nd Cary, NC RDU on Stage podcast interview of Honest Pint Theatre Company co-artistic, directors David Henderson and Susannah Hough, conducted by Lauren Van Hemert: https://rduonstage.com/podcast/podcast-ep-2-honest-pints-david-henderson-and-susannah-hough-talk-parenting-rory-kinnears-the-herd-and-luck-and-doggedness/.
Honest Pint Theatre Company presents THE HERD at 8 p.m. Jan. 26, 3 p.m. Jan. 27, 8 p.m. Feb. 1 and 2, 3 p.m. Feb. 3, 8 p.m. Feb. 8 and 9, and 3 p.m. Feb. 10 at the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre at 7713-51 Lead Mine Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Food Lion Shopping Center.
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228 or https://nract.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0S1H00000SKKiPUAX.
SHOW: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/plays-events, http://www.nract.org/shows#/the-herd/, and https://www.facebook.com/events/2003881076375504/.
VIRTUAL PLAYBILL: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/copy-of-the-herd-playbill.
PRESENTER: https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/honestpinttheatrecompany/, and https://twitter.com/HonestPintthe8r.
VENUE: http://www.nract.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NRACT, and https://twitter.com/NRACT.
WARNING: Honest Pint warns Triangle theatergoers that this play contains “strong language and some disturbing content [emphasis added].”
The Herd (2013 West End and 2015 Chicago dramedy): https://www.samuelfrench.com/p/44457/the-herd/ (Samuel French, Inc.), https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/rory-kinnear/work/the-herd (Curtis Brown), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rory_Kinnear#Theatre (Wikipedia).
Rory Kinnear (London actor and dramatist): https://actorrorykinnear.wordpress.com/ (official website), https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/rory-kinnear (Curtis Brown bio), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1239499/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rory_Kinnear (Wikipedia).
David Henderson (Raleigh, NC director and founder and co-artistic director of Honest Pint Theatre Company): https://www.honestpinttheatre.org/copy-of-our-mission (Honest Pint bio), https://www.facebook.com/theatrescot (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/theatrescot (Twitter page).
Robert O’Connell is new to the Triangle, but not to the stage. As a playwright, he has had dozens of productions and awards throughout the world. He has an MS degree in Management Systems Analysis. A lifelong educator, O’Connell has also published three novels at http://www.flashmobthenovel.com/ and two humor anthologies from his blog, https://thesmartestguyiknow.wordpress.com/. He and his wife have settled in Cary, NC. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.