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My Dad’s Gap Year begins with empty beer cans and ends with a bottle of red wine and in between we are invited on the journey of a father and son, as they travel to Thailand to escape the claustrophobia of their ‘nuclear’ British family life. ‘My Dad’s Gap Year’ at its heart is about how love survives disappointment, failure and broken taboos but Tom Wright has wrapped it up in a fast-moving comedy and the result is a thoroughly enjoyable seventy minutes.
Adam Lannon makes a captivating and likeable Dave, the unemployed alcoholic father who’s living a role reversal with his conscientious, gay eighteen-year old son William. Alex Britt does a classic turn in portraying the inner turmoil and shyness of a young English educated man at the start of his sexual life. Dave’s estranged wife Cath (Michelle Collins) grounds these characters firmly in the twenty-first century with her eager friendship with William and her acceptance of Dave’s new lover.
Tom Wright is the Artist Development Manager at the Old Vic. Together with the director Rikki Beadle-Blair, winner of the Sony award for Best Documentary Feature for ‘The Roots of Homophobia’, they developed ‘My Dad’s Gap Year’ for Beadle-Blair’s company Team Angelica and it was first showcased at the Bush Theatre. With a very simple set consisting of a bare arena style stage with a pit in the middle and clever lighting, we are convincingly taken from a living room in “middle England”, to a corporate office, to Heathrow, to a beach, a gay bar, a flat in Thailand. Beadle-Blair and the cast keep the energy high and flowing and this allows us to live the hard, banal truths in this story without it getting bogged down. It’s too bad the lovers Dave and William meet in Thailand, Mae the “ladyboy” (Victoria Gigante) and fabulously sophisticated Matias (Max Percy), are not given a chance to become full characters in their own right and remain predictable. Still ‘My Dad’s Gap Year’ doesn’t take the easy way out. This “post-nuclear family” tries to come to terms with who they are and how much can really change within one generation. A sad revelation explains Dave’s addiction but doesn’t solve it. At the end love holds them all together and they go off to eat. It’s a happy ending to a family comedy we can believe in.
My Dad’s Gap Year at Park Theatre continues till 23rd February. Get tickets here.