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A CurtainUp London Review
Genesis Inc.

"I was your parachute when you hurtled down the big gay rabbit hole." — Bridget
Genesis Inc.
Cast in Genesis Inc. (Photo: Manuel Harlan)
It starts with the video message from the founder of Genesis Inc., Harry Enfield as Dr Joseph Marshall, a South African doctor working in the UK and picking up couples who have used up their IVF tries on the NHS and seek a private attempt. Serena (Ritu Arya) and Jeff (Oliver Alvin-Wilson) are trying for another baby. She has been pregnant but miscarried each time. Genesis Inc. offers a ¬£7000 final attempt to Serena and Jeff as they will run out of money for another. Surely the stuff of tragedy rather than comedy you think, and you'd be right. Bridget (Laura Howard) is a banker dealing with stock market flotations. She is pitching to take Genesis Inc on their launch but she has also frozen her own eggs pending her finding a suitable sperm donor to father her baby. Miles (Arthur Darvill) is a gay music teacher and a long time friend. He has applied for a job at a Catholic school and Bridget has agreed to pretend to be his fiancée so he can look like a family man.

There is a side story about Sharon (Clare Perkins) who is a victim of domestic violence and her social worker Jeff, but I am unclear as to where this interacts with the plot except that Sharon has four children and ease of conceiving. Another unpleasant diversion is of Serena playing the Genesis Inc. relaxation tapes with bizarre images projected and voiced by the spare female cast of her reproductive anatomy: Serena's vagina, Serena's ovary. Karl Marx (Harry Enfield with a wig and falling off stick on moustache, and beard) makes a comment on sex and capitalism but it was wasted on me. This scene is clunky and produces more grimacing than grinning.

Miles refuses to act as sperm donor for Bridget but their discussion gives him an idea to sell his Grade A sperm, which of course she will see as a gross betrayal. Act Two starts with a comedy sketch based on the aged conception of Isaac from the Bible by Abraham and Sarah at 99 years old. It is an excuse for actors to dress up in biblical clothes and for some of the audience to titter and of course for Harry Enfield to play God.

There is a note in the programme about the amount of wrangling and shepherding by the director Laurie Sansom: "the evolution of the script in the rehearsal room" to bring the play "to full readiness". That's as may be but the finished article suffers from a hugely wide set, conversations behind upper panels which make the speakers hard to hear, especially Bridget's CEO Larissa's (Clare Perkins) odd accent. I asked someone in the interval what accent he thought we were listening to. "Australian, I think," he said.

We do learn that Arthur Darvill as Miles can sing, although his side romance with a Catholic priest Father Scales (Arthur Wilson) is again a red herring. Hence, inn my opinion this chaotic, contrived and over themed play is not ready for the main house. I wonder how many of the extra ideas were inserted in rehearsal. Here is the playwright talking about them, "We have an ensemble of nine experienced and brilliant actors, all of whom have contributed so many ideas and thoughts and details that I'm in awe of how flexible and creative they've been, helping build the characters and world as we're going along." Genesis Inc's creation is a shambles!

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Genesis Inc. by Jemma Kennedy
Directed by Laurie Sansom
Starring: Harry Enfield, Ritu Arya, Arthur Darvill, Laura Howard, Oliver Alvin-Wilson
With: Kirsty Besterman, Shobu Kapoor, Clare Perkins, Arthur Wilson
Design: Jess Curtis
Sound Design: Gareth Fry
Lighting Design: Oliver Fenwick
Composer: Zara Nunn
Movement: Georgina Nunn
Video Design: Ian William Galloway
Running time: Two hours 40 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 020 7722 9301
Booking to 28th July 2018
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 2nd July 2018 performance at the Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, London NW3 3EU (Tube: Swiss Cottage)
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