No Kids is not what you might expect. It's not limited to a discussion of homophobic attitudes on what’s best for a child – whether a child needs a mother, or whether it’s ostensibly weird for a child to have two dads – nor is it an any angry proclamation of an entitlement to the same rights and opportunities as heterosexual couples. Instead, this show portrays an unapologetically responsible and conscious approach by a same-sex couple to what may be one of the most life-changing decisions they will ever make: whether to have kids.
Out of character at first, the two performers and co-artistic directors of Ad Infinitum – George Mann and Nir Paldi – introduce the purpose of their show: Mann and Paldi are a same-sex couple in real life, and decided to make a play about the conversation they were having. What follows is a vibrant and dynamic enactment of the twists and turns of that discussion, beautifully choreographed to entertain, as well as to move, provoke thought and inspire new understanding of the choice to be made.
Surrogacy and adoption are given the thoughtful attention they deserve, alongside consideration of a startling statistic: not having a child saves the planet over 58 tonnes of carbon. Should every prospective embryo be given this much attention? Reference is made to China’s former policy of limiting each family to one child, a reminder that this is a conversation with a significance beyond any specific nuclear family. Mann and Paldi also rehearse scenarios which are perhaps closer to home to parents – performing tantrums, trouble, even potential hatred from their own offspring, outside of fantastic dreams held for their special child.
One brilliant song simply lists all the things they will need to think of and buy throughout a child’s life. The pair really do leave no stone unturned in this enquiry, and the fact that they are a gay couple is both intrinsic to and separable from their purpose here.
After a spectacular, colourful, very polished performance, the ending was either unsatisfactory or fitting, depending on how you look at it. Of course we all wanted to know the outcome of this exhaustive conversation, and it would not have been surprising had one of them wheeled on to the stage a real live baby in a pushchair as a grand finale. What we got is less conclusive, the final lines perhaps underlining there is a drive beyond rational conclusion to procreate anyway.
What is uncontroversial is that, whatever the outcome may turn out to be for them personally, this show is a stunning creation. You have to hand it to Ad Infinitum – this company absolutely lives up to their name in creating an apparently infinite variety of shows. With this new work, they prove again there’s no end to issues they can explore theatrically, adding to a current debate in a thoroughly accessible way.