MY DAD’S GAP YEAR
by Tom Wright.
The Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, London N4 3JP to 23 February 2019.
Mon – Sat 7,45pm. Mat Thu & Sat 3.15 pm.
Runs: 90 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7870 6876.
Review: William Russell 1 February.
Mind the yawning gap
This was one of the most dispiriting evenings in the theatre I have endured in a long time. Apparently based on real events it tells how 45 year old Dave, a louche, unappealing, unemployed drunk separated from 40 year old assertive, practical no dress sense Cath takes their repressed 18 year old son William, intelligent, uptight and allegedly sweet, on a pre-university gap year holiday to Thailand. There the pair find themselves.
Dave falls for Ladyboy Mae, while William loses his inhibitions with Matias, an absolutely gorgeous half Thai half Spanish architect, before embarking on a the merry –go -round of sex apparently available there to all who want it. Since these days we get the play text that is where he is alleged to be intelligent as there is no evidence of it in the play, and one would have thought even in middle England, where they apparently live, he would have heard about what people who jump on that particular carousel risk getting.
It is performed in the round on a rectangular catwalk with a pit in the middle into which people jump from time to time which may make economic sense but means one gets no sense of escaping from middle England to the glories of the East. The real trouble is none of them, with the exception of Mae, who is making the best of a bad job and what life has handed her, is worth caring about.
Dave is a drunk because his Dad introduced him to drink as a lad, and now claims to have only a year to live – he says cancer, but it seems it could be his liver has packed up and Cath is a hard as nails career woman. William has stayed with Dave, but keeps in touch with his mummy who has found him a pre university job with her company. But he cannot resist the holiday offer, gets dumped by Matias – the bloom does go off even the prettiest boyfriend when they take to sex and drugs in excess – and phones Mum Cath in distress. She turns up to rescue them, makes friends with Mae, and lots of wine gets glugged before the evening drags to its end.
Director Ricky Beadle Blair has kept this halting merry go round whirling as well as it ever will, the Mae gets a nice speech about the plight of the transgender person to deliver, as well as the play’s last line, after William has proposed a toast to the time of his life – “Lets f—ing eat.” There are lots of four letter words used but at least the lads keep their knickers on.
Adam Lannon as Dave effectively creates the sort of man who would wear union Jack socks , Michelle Collins does all that could possibly be done with the thankless role of Cath, while teetering round on ridiculously high heeled shoes which makes one fear for one’s safety should she slip and hurtle into the audience. Alex Britt emotes nicely as the 18 year old prat with no brain, Victoria Gigante is appealing as the abused, exploited Ladyboy with a business brain, and Max Percy, who has the most amazing horizontal eyebrows, makes the predatory 30 year old Matias the sort of gorgeous predator anybody would fall for without thinking – why me?
There are plays about the gay predicament, about the male menopause which enlighten. This one does not.
To be fair it has some good lines – Cath, who has announced she is going to cook them a roast, as you do in Thailand, returns from shopping to declare “I just got a Waitrose shop for Lidl money” – and the cast soldiers on manfully throughout a very long 90 minutes. But Mae has the best idea of the night.
Dave: Adam Lannon.
William: Alex Britt.
Cath: Michelle Collins.
Matias: Max Percy.
Mae: Victoria Gigante.
Director: Ricky Beadle-Blair.
Set & Costume Designer: Sarah Beaton.
Lighting Designer: Derek Anderson.
Sound Designer: Benjamin Winter.
Production photography: Pamela Rait.