• Amy Toledano

Over My Dad's Body presented by Simon David

What Is It?

The new, darkly comic one-man show from actor, musician and comedian Simon David, co-written and directed by Chris Larner.

What Is It About?

Just as Simon David is about to embark on his latest, fabulous theatrical escapade, Date Night, David is given the news that his father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has 24 months to live. What ensues in the next hour is a clever, tongue-in-cheek yet no less poignant examination of the one-man show as a genre and of the processing of grief and loss.

How Did It Make Me Feel?

I love a show that starts with a bang and Over My Dad’s Body does just that. We open with a saucy musical number that sets the tone for David’s outrageous style of comedy. This is a performer who is very self aware of his craft and the industry in which he works and David does not hold back in his scathing mockery of the acerbic pomposity of theatre critics - the slide-show of review quotes for his previous show Virgin had me both cringing and howling with laughter.

Indeed, the way that David satirises the tropes of the solo performance - a genre that is both dreaded but also much lauded in theatrical circles - truly shines in this piece. Anyone who has experience of watching fringe theatre or has some sort dramatic education will find the ‘Daddy’s Boy’ sequence particularly hilarious. David’s humour has an effortless sharpness that makes you realise you are in the presence of a very skilled comic performer.

Yet, for all the comedy, there is the poignancy of David’s father’s diagnosis that brings this show to its emotional height. Clips of David’s father’s own one-man show are played throughout, and the contrast in style between father and son is marked; while the father paints vast poetic metaphors with his dialogue, the son’s quick wit does not allow us to settle into the saccharine covers of sentimentalist warmth. The loss of a parent, particularly to a long, terminal illness, is a painful and an ugly process - though we are spared any graphic details, David makes this fact clear. His handling of grief is not self indulgent and nor is it flippant, but it is handled in a way that recognises the sorrow and the pain but also that it is a part of life. Those left behind after the death of a loved one do carry on, and though we will remember those who have passed, we cannot live in that loss forever - as David’s father points out, we must make the most of the time we are given.

Anything Else?

The show’s final message of any narrative being worth telling - however ‘silly’ or ‘shallow’ it may initially seem - is a powerful one in a world where arts funding has become increasingly mercenary.

Alexandra x

Over My Dad's Body is playing at the Crescent, The Vaults until February 1st 2020.

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