Kith & Kin Theatre Collective Presents A World Premiere of HYPOTHETICALS!

Hmm…spell check doesn’t like Hypotheticals. I’ll have to fix that. The Kith & Kin Theatre Collective closed their inaugural season with a World Premiere presentation of Rebecca Anne Nguyen’s play, Hypotheticals.

Let’s start with a short synopsis…this play works a genre while working beyond it as well. A woman is on her way to an appointment with a therapist and happens upon a gentleman who is running late and waiting for an elevator. Once on the elevator she, Blaise McKay, impulsively stops the car and refers to her companion as, I believe, oppressively handsome and bares a bit of her soul to this stranger, Dr. Jamie Brooks. She demands reciprocity and he complies and they engage in a very passionate kiss…and then proceed on their respective ways. UNTIL, the young lady arrives at her appointment to find her chance meeting stranger is the therapist she is scheduled to meet.

Shayne Patrick and Selena Milewski. Photo by Adam Harrison and courtesy of Kith & Kin Theatre Collective.

So, we have all of the vital elements necessary for a sensational rom-com. And playwright Nguyen plays off that riff to the hilt. Nguyen has nailed every element of what makes a rom-com work, emotional attraction, silly dialogues, misunderstandings, great humor, and of course conflicts that put the budding relationship at risk. Just this story line alone would make this play a great evening of theater.

But without giving more of the action away, let me just continue with this. There are some very serious elements to the story that make this a drama as well. Of course from my synopsis it is apparent that one conflict is the therapist client relationship and the boundaries that ethics mandate. It is explored in depth and is played out in a number of surprising ways.

Shayne Patrick and Selena Milewski. Photo by Adam Harrison and courtesy of Kith & Kin Theatre Collective.

And in a twist quite unexpected, Blaise has been sent to the therapist by her employer for a bit of inappropriate behavior in the workplace. She is under a fair amount of stress at this point, being at risk of losing her job and as the sole support of her mother, who is in a home for people with dementia. So a number of sub-topics appear, care for dementia patients, cultural norms, and what are acceptable actions when you don’t feel you fit into the prevailing norms.

And Jamie, he prefers Jamie to Dr. Brooks, uses a great number of metaphors and hypotheticals in his almost daily sessions with Blaise. But the underlying diagnosis seems to point to Autism and being on the spectrum and what that means to your personal identity as well as your feelings about your place in society.

Rom-com yes, Drama yes, social issues…yes. And they all fuse together seamlessly as Nguyen masters the language needed to tell this story.

Selena Milewski is a very convincing Blaise McKay. Milewski presents a perfect flirty and impulsive Blaise in the opening elevator scene and initial therapy sessions. And then grows into the person ready to connect with life and relationships as she grows through the play. And Jamie Brooks is played by Shayne Patrick, a tall imposing figure who initially is very sure of himself and his position, if just a bit stuffy and maybe a bit anal, until he is forced to review his life and role in the world through his attraction to Blaise and the constraints in their relationship. And he has a secret or two of his own.

Selena Milewski and Sarah Mankowski-Lathrum. Photo by Adam Harrison and courtesy of Kith & Kin Theatre Collective.

Susan Kelly plays Dr. Gwen. I don’t want to go too far into her role here because it involves a substantial plot twist. But she is certainly a more fluid individual than Jamie and maybe a bit representative of 21st C rule making/bending. Sarah Mankowske-Lathrum has dual roles, the major one as Betty McKay, Blaise’s mother, and she smoothly moves from dementia to clarity…it is hard to discern that change at first. Marzieh Karami also has two roles, but the major one is as Arlo, another patient of Dr. Brooks, whose session always follows Blaise. Without going to far into that role, she is a very expressive actor and then it’s a miracle! And she pulls it off so smoothly that we don’t even notice until she declares it so!

Marzieh Karami, Selena Milewski, and Shayne Patrick. Photo by Adam Harrison and courtesy of Kith & Kin Theatre Collective.

And on Friday night, we were lucky enough to hear Rebecca Anne Nguyen talk about the development of the play and its path to Kith & Kin. It was featured in a number of readings around the country and tweaked as a result of the feedback before receiving a full presentation here in Milwaukee. Hopefully it will soon find other venues…it deserves it!

Shayne Patrick. Photo by Adam Harrison and courtesy of Kith & Kin Theatre Collective.

Hypotheticals is the last play in Kith & Kin’s 2023/2024 season. It closes today, April 21, 2024 with a sold out house. Kith & Kin Theatre Collective was founded by my friend, Artistic Director Kimberly Laberge. I would like to thank her for bringing some very challenging theater to Milwaukee. If you want to learn more about Kith & Kin, click here! I am looking forward to the sophomore season.

Any Questions??

Shayne Patrick and Selena Milewski. Photo by Adam Harrison and courtesy of Kith & Kin Theatre Collective