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My Dad’s Gap Year review at Park Theatre, London – ‘thinly drawn characters’

Michelle Collins and Alex Britt in My Dad's Gap Year at Park Theatre, London. Photo: Pamela Raith
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Dave is not having a good year. He’s unemployed, his drinking is out of control and his wife Cath has abandoned him. What’s worse, his gay son William has opted for a marketing internship rather than spending his gap year on a beach in the sun getting laid. So Dave takes matters into his own hands, forcing William to join him on an extended father-son bonding session in Thailand.

Tom Wright’s latest play has all the ingredients of a contemporary sex farce. There are plenty of laughs and an abundance of bare flesh, but Wright also attempts to delve a little deeper into the issues surrounding each character. It’s laudable in this regard, addressing alcoholism, sex and drug addiction, as well as the problems facing trans women and the Asian queer community. By addressing so many issues however it dilutes a piece that’s already straining for dramatic credibility.

Rikki Beadle-Blair, who helped develop the play for his Team Angelica collective, directs with characteristic invention, staging the piece in the round on a platform stage. The pacing is a problem though and despite some genuinely affecting performances, there’s little time for any satisfying character development.

Adam Lannon and Michelle Collins make the best of their thinly drawn characters. Alex Britt, however, really impresses as William. His character has the most challenging emotional journey, processing his parents separation, his father’s self-destructive drinking and his own sexuality, and he plays all this with conviction. Victoria Gigante and the beguiling Max Percy give equally moving performances, but there’s simply too much packed into this too-brief play for it to succeed.

 

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Verdict
An engaging play that’s so packed with issues it leaves little room for character development
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