- Gareth K Vile
- 24 August 2018
Storytelling that expresses the love of a father
Matthew Roberts, writer and performer, does not lack ambition: in an hour of storytelling, he references classics of children's literature, explores the grief of a parent for lost children, homophobia and the resilience of love. Asking how the death of a child can undermine both the fathers' sense of self and their relationship, it refuses to shy away from exposing the nastiness and outrage that has infested the internet and public opinion.
Roberts races through a range of characters, using diverse accents to make each one clearly distinctive, with a range of experiences. The adoptive fathers who experience the excitement of becoming grandparents, then lose their younger son and daughter in a canoe accident, the Liverpudlian son who simply adores his fathers and found in them a redemption from foster care hardship, and then the voices of the haters on twitter, who see justice in the death of children. It is emotive and challenging, but ultimately compassionate, allowing the characters to find their grief and move towards reconciliation. Recognising the political edge of any personal tragedy, Canoe never condemns when it can strive to understand.
Struan Leslie's direction is fast-paced and keeps Roberts moving in a clear line, even with an intricate and complicated monologue. Modest in its theatricality, it is a reminder that even the basic elements of theatre – a single body on stage, a script and a bit of lighting – can educate, inform and educate with emotional and intellectual depth.
The Space @ Surgeons Hall, until 25 Aug, 9.05pm, £8 (£5).