John Pendal: We Are Family (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

John Pendal: We Are Family

credit: Steve Ullathorne

Universal tale of uncovering a family's excitingly dirty laundry

Tapping into our current obsession with family trees, John Pendal's second solo Fringe show looks at his own lineage having finally found something to talk about with his ordinarily monosyllabic father. The comic's preoccupation is that he's the last of a long line of staunch Baptist Pendals, and that as a gay man who's not planning on having any children, the name is likely to die with him.

There's a universality to this story given that in every family there's a couple of rogues, babies born outside of wedlock, and folk that travelled to far-flung lands. Pendal is a charming and affable storyteller and the tale is constructed as smartly as his neatly clipped appearance. There are some nice contrasts to be enjoyed here too, with him having a buttoned-up religious upbringing before being crowned Mr Leather in 2003 (that was the last solo show's story).

But the moment of friction that carries the tale forwards lies in his elderly father's reluctance to accept Pendal's marriage to a man. Old school, to say the least, his dad is a man who likes to leave newspaper clippings for people in odd places and is not used to being contradicted. A thoroughly enjoyable hour.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, until 27 Aug (not 13), 5.30pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).

John Pendal: We Are Family

  • 3 stars

In his new show comedian John Pendal looks at his family tree.