David Baddiel, My Family: Not the Sitcom, Playhouse Theatre, review: ‘Baddiel is unflinching and charmingly insightful’

David Baddiel, My Family: Not The Sitcom

David Baddiel, My Family: Not The Sitcom - Credit: Archant

Baddiel exudes an everyman aura and ensures that this show feels inclusive and personable

A certain degree of reappraisal, re-evaluation and revelation comes in the wake of the passing of a loved one, as those who remain trawl through the physical artefacts left behind.

Rather than keeping such matters strictly personal, Hampstead comedian David Baddiel, has taken it upon himself to present his findings on a West End stage. It makes for an unusual, rip-roaring traipse with few stones left unturned.

Pacing the stage with a slideshow remote in hand, he is a genial presence, resembling a louche geography teacher on an extensive digression. By way of TV clips, photos, email screenshots and more, we discover that his golf-fanatic mother had an affair for the best part of twenty years and did little to cover it up.

We also learn of his father’s sad descent into dementia. Baddiel is unflinching, but also charmingly insightful, when he assesses the impact this has had on his father’s character.

The traction of the entire show, with its plentiful jokes and wry asides, ushers the audience into a false sense of security with bawdy, filthy and also innocent-seeming anecdotes, until we reach an unexpectedly moving denouement. It is offered through what is - prima facie - a piece of innocuous footage from deep within Baddiel’s own archives. It is one that ends up saying so much through so little.

Baddiel exudes an everyman aura and ensures that this show feels inclusive and personable. He is self-aware without self-censorship, and yet you can’t shake the feeling that this extended, elongated, unorthodox eulogy-of-sorts is part of an ongoing exercise in the process of grief.

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Disarming, occasionally alarming and thoroughly engrossing, it is a show to make the face smile, the stomach ache, the eyes glisten and, from time-to-time, the head shake. A true delight.

Rating: 4/5 stars