Theatre Review: My Dad’s Gap Year, Park Theatre
PUBLISHED: 15:34 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:34 04 February 2019
Tale of a middle-aged drunk who takes a bonding trip to Thailand with his long-suffering son is fun, but overstuffed with issues
The set design for this lively play is Zen in its simplicity.
A raised, four sided, white counter with an oblong hole in the middle acts as airport, office, catwalk, club, flat, beach and bar.
The dad of the title is Jack-the-Lad Dave, a drunk whose lovely wife Cath (played with fiery independence and clarity of thought by the excellent Michelle Collins) has thrown him out.
His deteriorating relationship with son William is mediated by drink and William has become a father to his dad.
Wanting to atone for his failings, Dave makes a desperate attempt to rebuild their relationship with a trip to Thailand where “I can chat up lonely widows and you can be your own man, or inside your own man.”
Not the traditional lonely widow, we meet Mae (professionally a Lady-Boy, personally a Transgender Woman) as she is enthusiastically doing Dave “a kindness”.
Perhaps surprisingly, his response when he finds out Mae’s gender identity is rather chilled-out. They fall in love.
Meanwhile, William, played with a shrewd concoction of vulnerability and strength by Alex Britt, has a doomed romance with Max Percy’s exquisite Matias.
Adam Lannon (Dave) and Victoria Gigante bring a great deal of understanding and passion to their roles. Between the rather earnest pleas for understanding and respect is some very funny, sharp dialogue.
The narrative is hampered, paradoxically, by the unchanging set and few costume changes: it’s hard to chart and appreciate a year’s worth of plot developments when it is condensed into 90 minutes.
Playwright Tom Wright has perhaps tried to cram in too many themes – family and filial relationships, sexual identity and gender, illness and death, alcohol and substance abuse, depression, responsibility and love.
But despite the need for tightening up, it’s a rewarding and fun production.