Funny and moving paean to family with storytelling and bad puns
This article is from 2016.
Joanna Griffin and her father Pat have swapped places: he was a builder, Joanna is a theatre-maker and comic. As the audience enter, this most endearing pair offer (what else?) builder's tea. What follows is a very funny autobiographical show which feels like a warm embrace, with Joanna rolling her eyes at her father's pun-gent 'Dad jokes', some of which he freely admits to pinching from fellow Irishman, the late Dave Allen, some which are truly groan-inducing. For her part of the bargain, she designs a makeshift set with bricks bearing inspirational quotes, and banters with the garrulous, gentle Pat.
But this is no mere exercise in role play theatre as comedic conceit, with mentoring from Mark Thomas and a recent run at Battersea Arts Centre. Having lost their wife and mother recently, Joanna and Pat make her presence felt, by hanging her favourite clothes on a washing line, and sharing stories of those little family foibles we all have, along with how to move on after such a huge loss. It's simple, but incredibly moving.
The most poignant moment comes when they share a blanket, and Pat talks of a recent holiday he and Joanna shared: clear skies, and the inspiration that comes from a roaring fire. All we have is the here and now, a pink suit and dancing to the Bee Gees. The show is never 'drilled' to perfection, but what it lacks in slickness, it makes up for in emotional articulacy. Hugely relatable and heartfelt.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 28 Aug (not 16), 5.30pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).