Review: David Baddiel – My Family (Not the Sitcom), Playhouse Theatre, 26/04/17

Baddiel’s latest offering is not your average ‘dead dad’ show – not least because it’s about his dead mum, as well as, in part, his father, who now suffers from Pick’s disease, a form of dementia.

Over the course of two hours, Baddiel takes us through the most amusing, poignant and just plain odd moments from his family history. The show has a compelling throughline: the did they/didn’t they romance between Baddiel’s mother and a dapper golfer named David White, who was most definitely not her husband. This core narrative is interspersed with anecdotes from his already-outspoken father whose illness has rendered him even more uninhibited. Baddiel’s father loudly exclaiming that he’d like to rape a young female attendee at his own wife’s funeral is a case in point.

Baddiel is a comedy veteran, which is reflected both in the demographic of his show audience – at forty-something, my friend and I seem the youngest there – and by his skilful storytelling and delivery.

Like the audience, however, some of the jokes feel dated at times, notably when Baddiel lapses back into his Skinner-era ‘lad’ persona. The language he uses in a routine based upon his grandfather frequenting prostitutes (or, as Baddiel phrases it, ‘fucking whores’) feels clunky and anachronistic, as does referring to his mother as ‘a slag’ for her suspected affair.

Notwithstanding this, the overall tone of the show is sensitive and reflective; building on the premise that even our parents are multi-faceted human beings, and that by canonising them after their death we lose a lot of what made them wonderful.

 

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