Review: The Kilburn Passion


by Natalie Bennett (a version of this article first appeared at blogcritics)


The Kilburn Passion  C31B4339Kilburn is a marginal area of London – on the edge, with lots of people living life on the edge, although as everywhere else in the city, the creeping force of gentrification is visible, at least occasionally. It’s a place of characters, of chances, of risks, and that characteristic is visibly, energetically alive in ‘The Kilburn Passion’, which re-opened tonight at the Tricycle Theatre.

In a snappy run of tight, short vignettes (the whole play is just 75 minutes without an interval, although its richness makes it feel longer), we meet some of the Kilburn denizens – the hairdressers, the boutique owner with her restive staff, the food van operator, the drug addict on the slide, the single father trying to be a great Dad but not quite managing with the practicalities, the shy near-recluse, the would-be gentrifier and his resistant partner, and more.


Rich, fast and energetic

The Kilburn Passion  C31B5170It could easily be bitty and disjointed, but instead it’s rich, fast and energetic, a credit to playwright, director and cast. There’s an occasional drift towards cliche, particularly with the drug addict character, but it’s usually quickly pulled back.

In writer Suhayla El-Bushra, the Tricycle Young Company has discovered a truly considerable new talent. Few truly understand the importance of “show don’t tell” as well as she clearly does at this early stage of her career, and she’s got a fine touch of humour that slides easily out of pathos and even tragedy.

No spoilers, but this truly is a passion play: it could be too neat, but somehow this blending of medieval and modern works.

In this production director Emily Lim has done a fine job of marshalling every nuance, mapping every movement into a lively whole. Choreography is assured and sophisticated.

The young cast (all under 25) does an excellent, even job. They all deserve credit and it would feel inequitable to single anyone out.


The Kilburn Passion first ran in April, and has now returned for a run of just a few days; so get in quickly for tickets! Playing until the 9th, with online booking. (Photographer Mark Douet). More on the background of the production.

One Response to Review: The Kilburn Passion

  1. I went to see this with you (as you know!) and had low expectations going in – but it was absolutely fantastic. I don’t think there was a single weak performer but more importantly the thing itself could have been cliched and heavy handed but managed to avoid all the potential pitfalls of this sort of ensemble piece looking into people’s ‘real lives’.

    There was a very nice side plot / discussion about race and class that I thought was very strong, but I particularly liked the way people’s flaws and virtues were portrayed in a very human way.