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THEATER REVIEW: “Kin” at the ion

So if humans are social beings hardwired to be together, why is connection often so difficult and getting along such a hassle?

Playwright Bathsheba Doran illustrates the problems without elucidating an answer in the curiously structured “Kin,” getting a fine production through April 4 at ion theatre.

“Kin” takes place over a seven-year span in the lives of Columbia adjunct English professor Anna (Rhianna Basore), new boyfriend Sean (Evan Kendig), her family and friends, and explores such relationship problems as infidelity (desired or actual), alcoholism, friendship, family secrets and – perhaps most important – loneliness, tossing in cultural differences with an Irish character or two.

The show is structured as a series of short duets (perhaps a holdover from Doran’s work as a TV writer), beginning with one everyone can relate to – a terrific breakup scene, when departmental colleague Simon (Mario Prado, Jr.) tells Anna in a wonderfully awkward way that their relationship is over.

Anna has problems most of us don’t: she’s smart, educated, and has just finished a book on Keats’ punctuation (something I’ll bet most of us have never even contemplated) that she’s trying to get it published.

She’s also taken up with personal trainer Sean and we will see both (separately) questioning that decision. In fact, Sean and Anna are almost never seen together, which may be significant in its own right.

Now and then the scene shifts to Ireland, where Sean’s alcoholic widowed mother Linda (Elaine Litton) drinks a bit, perhaps to forget a long-ago trauma. Sean’s uncle Max (Tim West) also shows up (in New York) in an amusing gym scene. Sean’s ex-girlfriend Rachel (Bailey Neill) also turns up.

Hannah Logan turns in a terrific performance as Anna’s neurotic and depressed bff Helena (Hannah Logan), a wannabe actress with a knack for picking married boyfriends.

Anna’s dad, widowed Army colonel Adam (Donal Pugh), tries to be supportive, but has never really understood her; he goes to dying girlfriend Kay (Kathi Copeland) for consolation.

“Kin” is an odd bird of a play, but the questions are universal (how *do* we all keep on keeping on?), the acting and direction so fine that floating along with it is both easy and rewarding.

The details

“Kin” plays through April 4 at ion theatre's BLKBOX @ 6th & Penn, 3704 Sixth Ave. in Hillcrest in San Diego, California.

Thursday and Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 4 and 8 pm.

Tickets: (619) 600-5020 or HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.