The Herd, written by Rory Kinnear, directed by Howard Davies and with a very fine cast, doesn’t suffer from the absence of eye catching names. Its subject matter, a family celebration of a special birthday, shows ambition in its simplicity. Yet, as the play started, I started noticing things I disliked: the mother was obnoxious, with a suffocating flat quality. The daughter – thirty three years of age – was behaving like a spoilt teenager. First impressions can go either way, but in this occasion they started shaping into substantial objections.
First and foremost, I struggled with the characters: the women were universally unlikeable, worse they didn’t feel flesh and blood. The grandmother was a formidable character, but she was just that, a character. The daughter was meant to struggle but came across as whiny. The men fared a little bit better: they were salt of the earth, perhaps a little bit too much. Wisdom came easy to them, even for the father who abandoned the family but still was emotionally articulate to know why. Continue reading