Tag Archives: Rikki Beadle-Blair

My Dad's Gap Year

My Dad’s Gap Year
★★½

Park Theatre

My Dads Gap Year

My Dad’s Gap Year

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 1st February 2019

★★½

 

“Although the dialogue is often a bit wooden, there are flashes of cleverness and adept humour. However, the story is as directionless as its protagonist”

 

Eighteen-year-old, gay, repressed William (Alex Britt) is gearing up for a gap year of work experience at a marketing firm. But his free-spirit, alcoholic, “try-everything-once” father Dave (Adam Lannon) has other plans for him. Dave surprises William with plane tickets to Thailand. Screw work experience; William needs life experience. William is going to take a proper gap year, and Dave is going with him.
My Dad’s Gap Year is a sleek production by design team Sarah Beaton (set and costume), Derek Anderson (lighting), and Benjamin Winter (sound). The stage is a raised, square platform with a pit in the centre. The cold blue and magenta lights reflect on the sterile white stage. It’s a striking, well-executed aesthetic. Whether it serves the story is another question. I’m not fully convinced it does.

The script, by Tom Wright, explores worthy subjects, including the ways alcoholism affects families, and transgender issues. Although the dialogue is often a bit wooden, there are flashes of cleverness and adept humour. However, the story is as directionless as its protagonist. William’s journey to Thailand is something that’s been forced on him. He’s passive. There’s nothing to feel invested in, because there’s nothing he’s trying to do. Dave is equally adrift. They party, they meet people, they try new things – William learns to loosen up, and a twist is revealed about Dave – but it’s a scattering of scenes that don’t feel like they’re adding up to anything. There are big moments of confrontation and melodrama, but because they’re not formed from a building story, we end up watching from a place of detachment.

The problem with audience investment is further exacerbated by the fact that William is unsympathetic. He’s a pious, judgmental, “disrespectful little brat,” as his mother finally calls him. He chastises his mum for not prioritising his needs over her own. He’s abusive and transphobic toward Dave’s Thai girlfriend. Because we aren’t given anything to compensate for William’s unlikability, it’s difficult to care what happens to him.

The two non-English characters rely heavily on cultural tropes: the sexualised, non-monogamous, Spanish Matias (Max Percy), and the Thai “ladyboy” Mae (Victoria Gigante), who speaks in stereotypical broken English. Because Wright doesn’t seem to have any insight into the cultures he’s invoked, his use of them as background for a narrative about a white family feels careless.

At the moment, My Dad’s Gap Year is a pool of characters, backstories, and ideas. If Wright can find the plot, the play will be much stronger.

 

Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography by Pamela Raith

 


My Dad’s Gap Year

Park Theatre until 23rd February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Distance | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Other Place | ★★★ | September 2018
And Before I Forget I Love You, I Love You | ★★★★ | October 2018
Dangerous Giant Animals | ★★★ | October 2018
Honour | ★★★ | October 2018
A Pupil | ★★★★ | November 2018
Dialektikon | ★★★½ | December 2018
Peter Pan | ★★★★ | December 2018
Rosenbaum’s Rescue | ★★★★★ | January 2019
The Dame | ★★★★ | January 2019

 

Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com

 

Riot Act – 5 Stars

Riot

Riot Act

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 31st July 2018

★★★★★

“packs an emotional and political punch that will move and inspire”

 

A powerful, emotional and rousing piece of verbatim theatre, ‘Riot Act’ is by far one of the most moving pieces of new queer writing currently being performed in London. Alexis Gregory, the creator and performer of the piece, has assembled three epic monologues from interviews with three gay men: Michael in New York, who tells of his experience at the Stonewall Riots; Lavinia from Hackney, who recounts their life on the London drag scene; and Paul, a gay rights activist reminiscing about his time on the front line.

All older gay men, these people (characters?) tell stories of amazing scope, encompassing gay liberation, the hedonistic seventies, devasting eighties and nineties, and the freedoms (or, indeed, lack thereof) that were fought for over the past five decades. Legacy and history are important to these men, and all seem impressed in the end that Gregory is taking the time to interview them and hear their stories. People simply “don’t ask”. Is there a link between strong gay male communities and an engagement with the past? ‘Riot Act’ argues there is, and that through understanding the struggles previous generations battled through we can better appreciate what we have now. Peter Tatchell is quoted in Paul’s interview, and the message sticks: vigilance, in a world where gay men still face abuse on a day to day basis (yes, even at 67!), is key. The piece is less a call to arms and more a kind reminder that communities, especially LGBTQ+ ones, are often stronger than individuals alone, and provide a necessary support network we cannot see get lost.

Gregory himself gives a startlingly punchy, grounded and virtuosic performance. Easily sashaying from character to character, a simple change of costume, voice and physicality denotes personality, and in his hands, the monologues become at once powerful, forceful and yet intimately personal. Rikki Beadle-Blair directs Gregory well, drawing out his physicality and strength, as well as the comedy within the monologues.

The impact of these stories was made all the more potent by the interviewees actually being in the audience on opening night. Bringing home the struggles and joys of older gay men’s lives, ‘Riot Act’ packs an emotional and political punch that will move and inspire well beyond it’s closing lines.

 

Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Dawson James

 


Riot Act

King’s Head Theatre until 5th August

 

Related
Also by Alexis Gregory
Sex/Crime | ★★★★ | The Glory | April 2018

 

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