A coming-of-age comedy, a father and son learn to face their issues on a holiday like no other after they "try everything once." Jonathan Penney reviews My Dad's Gap Year:

In this family values show, a father pulls himself out of depression by taking his son on the gap year he never experienced. The core of Tom Wright’s narrative is where this play shines, pulling on the troubles that families can become embroiled in and showing how important the word ‘family’ really is. They may not all be blood relatives, but can be just as vital. Take Mae (Victoria Gigante) for instance – a Thai trans-woman who overcomes adversity and prejudice to become an integrated member of the extended unit.

Gap Year Park Theatre

Max Percy & Victoria Gigante (image courtesy of Pamela Raith)

Watching the characters come together and build a bond after the absurdity of events, especially after many years of strained relationships, is a touching moment. But Wright’s script suffers from some structural issues throughout. At numerous points, scenes are portrayed from the perspective of mother Cath (Michelle Collins), following her dating and career exploits. But shifting focus takes away from the overall madness of father Dave (Adam Lannon) & son William (Alex Britt) and their wild adventure.

Gap Year Park Theatre

Michelle Collins (image courtesy of Pamela Raith)

However irrelevant to the overall production, they give Collins a platform to shine as a struggling newly-single mother, humorous in her conversations to the cast and providing further comedic value. Other performance highlights are from Lannon and Britt, the uptight eighteen-year-old who often acts as more of a father figure than his own dad does. These two are the key members of this cast and their struggling relationship takes centre stage.

As a design team, Sarah Beaton, Derek Anderson and Benjamin Winter have all made interesting use of the intimate space. Beaton’s staging sets the feeling of the foreign climate of Thailand, adapting to fit various scenarios. Anderson’s lighting adds context, with flashing lights and dark tones giving the gap year feeling of a sweaty clubb, which works in acclimating the audience. Winter’s sound moves the story along. Offstage effects bring the narrative to life and surround the audience within this environment.

Gap Year Park Theatre

Alex Britt & Adam Lannon (image courtesy of Pamela Raith)

Family values are a touching theme for these character’s personalities to develop throughout the production. My Dad’s Gap Year showcases a wide range of often problematic themes, but the story attempts to tackle one too many and some scenes seem too eccentric for the audience to comprehend. Despite the structure of the play suffering as a result, humorous character development and the important core message around family makes this an enjoyable story to follow.

 

★★★☆☆

My Dad’s Gap Year plays at the Park Theatre until 23 February 2019. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the venue website.