BY LAUREN CODLING
ACTRESS Chetna Pandya’s enthusiasm about her new play, Of Kith and Kin, is infectious.
It tells the story of Daniel and Oliver who are looking forward to the latest addition to their brood – with a little help from their best friend and surrogate mother, Priya, played by Pandya, aged 36.
But is it all plain sailing and happy families?
“(The show) is so provocative,” she told Eastern Eye. “It is one of those shows that will challenge you. We all think of ourselves as these liberal, open minded people, but are we really? Can we really, truly be that liberal and open minded?”
Pandya has an obvious affection and warmth towards her character in the play. While describing her, it feels like she is referring to an old “vibrant, sassy, sharp and starkly honest” friend she’s known for years.
“She really has to face up to some big truths (in the play) and this is so wonderful because it’s so live and in this space, it’s so immediate what happens that it’s totally unforgiving and I love the fact that that’s the place that she’s at; that unforgiving, starkly immediate place in your life when you become a parent,” she said.
The actress, who has starred in hit television shows such as Black Mirror and The Aliens, can relate to the play’s central theme of families and becoming a parent all too well, as she is the mother of a two-year-old daughter.
“There is nowhere to hide,” Pandya laughed as she described her experience of being a parent.
“You have to face all your fears, all your demons and who you really are. Your child becomes a receptacle of all of those things, they become these extraordinary creatures because they are so pure.
“Any of the stuff you’re dealing with is what they will reflect right back at you and that moment is so unforgiving and so stark that if you are unwilling to face that part of yourself, then your child suffers and certainly for me, that’s not something that I’ve wanted to put on my baby.”
Of Kith and Kin is Pandya’s first job since returning from maternity leave and she said it
was a project that “lit up (her) Christmas tree lights”.
“I had to be a part of this conversation – it is such an honest reflection of all the questions that you ask yourself as a parent and I felt like it was a really landmark project for me to take that step back into theatre,” Pandya said.
So what is her hope for the audience? She hopes they will be “buzzing” with questions
about themselves, their own relationships and who they’re really making a stand for within their communities.
“That’s exactly what art should be. That’s exactly what theatre should be. It should totally be about looking at yourself and starting to make a change in your world, in your community. Start taking responsibility for being a community member,” she said.
Of Kith and Kin is at Sheffield Theatre from September 15 to October 7 and at the Bush Theatre in London from October 18 to 25