Tag Archives: Sarah Beaton

My Dad's Gap Year

My Dad’s Gap Year

Park Theatre

My Dads Gap Year

My Dad’s Gap Year

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 1st February 2019



“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


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Building the Wall – 4 Stars


Building the Wall

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 4th May 2018


“fearlessly addresses the concerns of the Trump-era presidency with chilling historical references”


In a prison interrogation room in 2019, Rick has one chance to tell reporter Gloria his side of the story. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Time Square, the American president orders a “round up”: the mass deportation of immigrants. When other countries refuse to engage in this scheme of ‘repatriation’, the number of detainees sky rockets and America is running out of places to put them. In the middle of all this is Rick. Rick runs a detainee prison. He is dealing with overcrowding, cholera, a heat wave and now governmental pressure. Months later, he is in prison himself, the President has been impeached and we are about to find out why. Bravely set only a stone’s throw into the future (although written in 2016), Robert Schenkkan’s dystopian narrative is a sinister vision of the possible consequences of a violent anti-immigration governmental stance, and begs the question: is it a crime to follow orders?

Jez Bond directs the UK premiere of ‘Building the Wall’ flawlessly. We watch the interview through the glass of an interrogation room (designed by Sarah Beaton). The room itself is bright white, bare apart from the obvious table and chairs, a water dispenser and a black mirror/window set into the wall. The sound (Theo Holloway) and lighting (Sally Ferguson) design are detailed and intelligent. We can only hear the characters speak when Gloria’s sound recorder is on, and the interview is underscored by sounds of violence from the prison, reminding the audience of what Rick’s everyday has become. As the play begins, long white ceiling lights flicker off, section by section.

Angela Griffin plays the African American academic, the only person Rick has granted access to. Trevor White plays Rick. Both are infinitely believable and I cannot fault their performances, but the characters themselves lack a certain level of depth and complexity. There is very little tension between them, meaning the ‘thriller’ element that the play defines itself with is missing, and the characters often serve as vehicles for the narrative. We do get a small amount of insight into Gloria’s life, her experiences of racism at an early age for example. Schenkkan also positions Rick as a cog within the system despite his differentiation between “the illegals” and “real Americans”, which adds some nuance to his character. However, given the structure of the play, their predominant function is to push the plot forwards and they have little development of their own.

Despite this, ‘Building the Wall’ is an intensely thought-provoking play, that fearlessly addresses the concerns of the Trump-era presidency with chilling historical references – a warning that must be heeded internationally. It is a brazenly political play that succeeds in delivering a message that needs to be heard. Whilst the characters are at points reduced to narrative vehicles, Griffin and White deliver competent and convincing performances, and the production is slick and well-done.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Mark Douet


Building the Wall

Park Theatre until 2nd June


Previously reviewed at this venue
A Princess Undone | ★★★ | February 2018
Vincent River | ★★★★ | March 2018
Pressure | ★★★★ | April 2018


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