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Grain in the Blood - KXT on Broadway (NSW)

By Rob Drummond. Presented by Virginia Plain in association with bAKEHOUSE Theatre KXT Broadway. Director & set designer: Victor Kalka


Reviewed by Juliana Payne

KXT On Broadway, Ultimo

Until 9th March

A solid example of how a small independent theatre group can create engaging dramatic entertainment, see it for the moody, highly dramatic interpretation at KXT


Grain in the Blood is a moody, highly dramatic play, set in the remote Scottish farming country. Although the action occurs in the here and now, the ancient local traditions and superstitions still play a significant role in people’s lives. It is a well written and cleverly structured play by playwright Rob Drummond who, thankfully, doesn’t treat his adult audiences as idiots and instead unfolds the plot and characters without bald statements of exposition. The play bubbles with dilemmas and tensions: between youth and age, health and illness, life and death, and the biggie – what is right and wrong. As it turns out, every person answers that question differently.


Set over a very tense weekend in an old country farmhouse (we hear the animals outside courtesy of Madeleine Picard’s sound and composition), the truth is gradually pieced together and the awfulness of the choices the characters are facing is revealed to the audience. There’s a prodigal son returning, who’s done something awful, a desperate grandmother, who’s prepared to do something awful, a daughter who keeps threatening to do something more awful, and an outsider who wants to stop awful things from happening but is paralysed by his own doubts and fears. Then, floating sweetly and serenely amongst them all is the young girl around whom this all revolves.

Grain in the Blood. KXT on Broadway. Images by Clare Hawley.


Siobhan Lawless plays the grandmother Sophia with world-weary desperation. Genevieve Muratore’s intense Violet delivers many of the hilarious dark jokes, but she reveals a dangerous streak. Ciarán O’Riordan as the prodigal son, Isaac, doesn’t get much to say but his character’s angst and regret for his crimes long ago are well acted. Nick Curnow as Burt, the outsider, depicts a man genuinely torn and caught on the horns of his own dilemma. Kim Clifton is fresh-faced and wide-eyed as Autumn but is well able to show the determination and courage that the other characters lack. 


Together the cast from the very opening scene build an ominous atmosphere, redolent with blood. There are odd, wry, dark Scottish jokes flecked throughout, and the audience laughs nervously. The theatre is small, so the building tension is palpable. The creaky floorboarded set designed by Victor Kalka is the perfect, coffin-shaped stage for such a story. Jasmin Borsovszky’s lighting and Picard’s sound and composition help to wrap the audience in the moment and carry us along to the suspenseful ending.

See this play for a solid example of how a small independent theatre group can create engaging dramatic entertainment


This play has been called a “folk morality thriller” and that pretty well sums it up. I bet Drummond has copies of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Stephen King’s Children of the Corn at the top of his book pile,  as similar mythic and allegorical tones and figures are woven through the play – with sacrifice and redemption leading the way. Although it is an utterly contemporary script, the lyrical interludes delivered by the young girl Autumn show a yearning for the long-lost traditions of those who lived, worked, and died on the land where the play is set.


See this play for a solid example of how a small independent theatre group can create engaging dramatic entertainment. They sweep you up into another world for a couple of hours, and then let you go – a bit surprised, a bit sad, a bit angry perhaps, but well satisfied with a decent theatrical production.



GRAIN IN THE BLOOD by Rob Drummond

Director Victor Kalka

with Kim Clifton, Nick Curnow, Genevieve Muratore, Siobhan Lawless, Ciarán O’Riordan


Tues - Saturday 7.30pm Sunday 5pm

$35 / $45

Previews $35

Thursday Under 30 tickets: KXT20FOR20S *apply to adult tix only 

Set Designer Victor Kalka

Lighting Designer Jasmin Borsovszky;

Sound Designer/Composer Madeleine Picard

Costume Designer Lily Mateljan

Dialect Coach Linda Nicholls-Gidley

Stage Manager Maya Soni 

Producer Victor Kalka


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