King’s Head Theatre

BREEDING at the King’s Head Theatre


“McStay’s dialogue is electric”

Breeding succeeds in finding a rare balance of sparky wit and thought-provoking poignancy.

It follows a gay couple as they navigate the steps in the adoption process. It’s a three hander – charming, flirty Zeb (Dan Nicholson) kind, anxious Eoin (Barry McStay, who’s also the writer) and their social worker (Nemide May) who becomes far more tangled in this couple’s life, than any of them expected.

It’s slickly directed by Tom Ratcliffe. Short snappy scenes are punctuated with upbeat music and smartly rearranged colourful blocks.

McStay’s dialogue is electric, cleverly painting the nuanced dynamics between the couple and their respective views on fatherhood. For me, the ending was too neat, and there were a couple of moments which felt particularly convenient, but the strength of the characters pulls through these slightly obvious beats.


“Nicholson shines as Zeb and the chemistry between him and McStay is delightful.”

The play is informative about the adoption process, emphasising the shocking levels of scrutiny potential parents are put under. It steers clear of feeling didactic but is an interesting insight for those who aren’t aware of the intensity of the process.

Nicholson shines as Zeb and the chemistry between him and McStay is delightful. They are fully realised, complex characters whose relationship feels truthful and compelling. May is strong as Beth, though it is a difficult part, as so much of her role is facilitating the drama, not being at the centre of it.

Ruby Law’s set is fun and clever. The wall is painted in block primary colours, with pages from the adoption workbook printed onto them. Three of the coloured blocks, which make up the movable set, have light up neon numbers – helping to clarify each of the three stages of the adoption process. It’s well thought out and joyous, with a sharp undertone – in keeping with the play itself.

This was my first visit to the new King’s Head venue, which opened earlier this year and is a far cry from the familiar back of the pub space which we all knew and loved. This is a more sterile, glossy theatre, but crucially with a larger, more versatile performance space. If Breeding is anything to go by, it marks an exciting new era for the space and I look forward to seeing what else is coming up.


BREEDING at the King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed on 25th March 2024

by Auriol Reddaway

Photography by Ed Rees




Previously reviewed at this venue:

TURNING THE SCREW | ★★★★ | February 2024
EXHIBITIONISTS | ★★ | January 2024
DIARY OF A GAY DISASTER | ★★★★ | July 2023
THE BLACK CAT | ★★★★★ | March 2023
THE MANNY | ★★★ | January 2023
FAME WHORE | ★★★ | October 2022
THE DROUGHT | ★★★ | September 2022
BRAWN | ★★ | August 2022
LA BOHÈME | ★★★½ | May 2022
FREUD’S LAST SESSION | ★★★★ | January 2022



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