An Instinct for Kindness

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Updated: November 20th, 2018

Chris Larner’s

An Instinct for Kindness

Written & performed by Chris Larner | Directed by Hannah Eidinow


Belltable | Wed 6th | 8pm | €15 

Suitable for Age 12+

On 6th November 2010, at Leeds-Bradford airport, I boarded a flight to Switzerland. With me: Allyson, my ex-wife and old friend, mother of my eldest son, and her sister Vivienne. We had return tickets all, just in case. We spend three days in Pfänikon.  It’s a pretty town. I shan’t be going to Pfänikon again.

Allyson arrived back at my flat a fortnight later. Or rather, a version of her. Sooner than I had imagined: efficient, the Swiss. We’ll take her up the Chevin, when the time is right. Say some words while the Yorkshire wind takes her.

Sodium Pentobarbital can cause vomiting, if you swallow enough of it. So an anti-emetic is administered, half an hour beforehand. Half an hour, when you can phone your son, read some cards, remember your childhood. They give you a chocolate, afterwards. In Switzerland, they have chocolate for everything. Back at the hotel, the following morning, Vivienne and I are packed and ready to go, stunned as cattle. A chambermaid is at the open door, watching us. She sees it all. Our grief, our guilt.

Deine Schwester?, she says eventually, to Viv, and I translate: yes, her sister. Ist besser fur Sie, says the maid, simply. Ist besser jetzt.  I denke soPerhaps, yes. She was in a lot of pain.

Meine Mutti, says the chambermaid, the same.  And she touches her heart. The first of many who will touch their hearts, to touch ours: you are not alone. In a shitty world, full of lies and adverts, incurable diseases and curable cruelty, humans yet show an instinct for kindness, and it shines through as stubborn as Spring. And there rests some kind of Hope.

Chris Larner is an actor, writer, director, and songwriter.  He trained at RADA.  His first (acting) gig was with schools’ company Theatre Centre, where he met Allyson Lee, whose story is told in his one-man show An Instinct for Kindness, ( winner of an Edinburgh Fringe First in 2011. Acting roles include The Mad Hatter in Alice (RSC); Wind in the Willows (RNT); Imp-with-One-Red-Shoe in Bewilderness (The Right Size).  On TV he’s best known for playing the idiot Clingfilm in London’s BurningMusic: many songs for The Right Size (for Stop Calling me Vernon; Do You Come Here Often; Bewilderness, The Remains of Foley and McColl): for Angelos and Barry The New Power Generation, for Lee Hall’s adaptations of Brecht’s Mr. Puntila and his Man Matti and The Barber of Seville; for Philip Pullman’s The Scarecrow and his Servant at Southwark Playhouse. Writing/directing: With composer Mark Stevens, he wrote/directed the award-winning musicals The Translucent Frogs of Quuup (Edinburgh and Ambassadors) and On the Island of Aars. Wrote/directed The Frida Kahlo of Penge West, (Rosemary Branch and Ed fringe); with Robert Mountford, that actor’s one-man show Vagabonds, My Phil Lynnott Odyssey ( and (with Jeremy Stockwell) Â Sockful of Custard celebrating the life of the great Goon Spike Milligan. @chrislarner

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