Friday 8 February 2019

My Dad's Gap Year @ The Park Theatre

My Dad's Gap Year @ The Park Theatre

William is eighteen, gay, and a virgin. His idea of a gap year is a (pretty dull) marketing job at his mum's office. His dad, Dave, is a lazy alcoholic slob, spending his days playing video games and drinking beer. He's in need of a gap year from life. And so, the two men journey to the sun, sand and sex of Thailand to find themselves.

My Dad's Gap Year, from Tom Wright, takes us on a journey too. What starts like an episode from The Inbetweeners travels through comedy and solemnity to a grave end, jarring tonal shifts suggesting a clash of genres between family comedy and drama.

Along that journey, the show touches on numerous important themes. On the one hand, the uptight and repressed William (Alex Britt) struggles with his sexuality and eventually turns to substance abuse as a coping method for both his inner trauma and the trauma of his parents splitting up. On the other, Dave (Adam Lannon) is dealing with splitting up with his wife, a lack of job, a lack of prospects. Both rely on escape to run away from their issues rather than facing them head-on. In predictable fashion, the play is essentially about these two disparate characters reconciling their differences and re-establishing their father-son relationship.

But it's also about opposing views of masculinity. Of a generational gap turned on its head. Of a broken family. Of trans rights and breaking down the image of Thai "ladyboys".

My Dad's Gap Year certainly has its heart in the right place. But for every moment of progression, there's a moment of trite cliché: from characterisation and the setting, to some cringey dialogue.

It remains an entertaining piece of theatre. Britt and Lannon make a great double act and their connection is ultimately heart-warming, while Victoria Gigante gives a poignant performance as Mae. Michelle Collins, while the headline actress as William's mother Cath, is largely superfluous to the narrative.

Still, the play is caught between the precocious seriousness of William and the juvenile banter of Dave. It never quite meets in the middle.


Watch: My Dad's Gap Year runs at the Park Theatre until 23rd February.

My Dad's Gap Year @ The Park Theatre

My Dad's Gap Year @ The Park Theatre
Photos: Pamela Raith