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Published 9 September 2014

What’s it all about?

Lesbian couple Caroline and Andrea want to start a family and look to Andrea’s brother Jimmy to provide the goods, thereby insuring the child carries both their genes. Idealistic dreams of communal living and tribal parenting quickly grow thin however as the group go about navigating all the emotional and often hilariously awkward logistical challenges that soon arise.

Who’s in it?

Writer Ben Ockrent and director Tamara Harvey have collected together a dream team foursome to make up Breeders’ unconventional family unit. Perhaps it’s their collective television credentials, but Angela Griffin as the sensible Caroline, Tamzin Outhwaite as the pushy, over-excited Andrea, a hilarious Nicholas Burns as an endearingly vacant Jimmy and Jemima Rooper, who steals the show as Jimmy’s increasingly ignored girlfriend, make the whole evening comparable to watching a riveting sitcom with characters who feel comfortingly familiar and entertainingly lovable.

Packed with recognisable dynamics and bustling with chemistry, the company are utterly believable as a real family. Just funnier. And better looking.

What should I look out for?

Griffin dressed as a gingerbread man. Rooper’s face while describing childbirth as “biological devastation” and her character’s half-hearted, totally unconvincing soliloquy as to why she doesn’t “believe” in babies. An ever-evolving Fun House-inspired set and Burns giving a delightfully over egged performance as Jimmy relates his act in the baby making process to being sent off to war. Breeders makes it clear it’s never comfortable to talk about your sister’s girlfriend’s cervix. Ever.

Oh yes, let us not forget the most surreal scene changes you’re likely to see this year involving 80s power ballads. Sung in Swedish. Sometimes involving the cast spreading food on their faces. It could have been awful, but Harvey’s brave choice proves genius.

In a nutshell?

Ben Ockrent’s Breeders is as packed with pathos as it is with puns. Observant truths run throughout with just with a sprinkling of magic thrown in, creating an evening of thoughtful escapism.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@Amanda_Holden You would expect me to rave about my gorg @Angela_Griffin in her new play ‘Breeders’ at St James theatre. So I will it’s bloody ace Go see!

@JolyonRubs .@BreedersPlay I laughed till it hurt. But it rarely hurts that much. I salute you @mouthwaite @CaptainPooper @BenOckrent DONS #Breeders

Will I like it?

If you come expecting an in-depth exploration of the politics of same sex parenting, then you’re likely to be disappointed; the fact that the couple embarking on the often complicated road to parenthood are gay is fairly inconsequential. Instead Ockrent and Harvey’s spikey comedy is a touching snapshot of the journey to creating your own family, whatever your circumstances, with a heart at its centre better described as scorching hot than warm.

Breeders is playing at the St James Theatre until 4 October. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.


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