Wednesday, 16 February 2000

It's A Dad Thing by The Dad's Theatre Group
 at Darebin Arts Centre until March.
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Sleep deprivation, screaming, noises in the night, excrement, incarceration, feelings of incompetence, forgetfulness. No, these are not abuses of prisoners of war but symptoms of new fatherhood.

Daddy walking with zombies is the subject of one scene in the very funny It's a Dad Thing. Dads get no sleep and feel guilty if they do. In fact, much of the content of the show is about feeling guilty and incompetent as a parent.

It is honest, personal and funny. These five 30-something dads, directed by David Lander (OK), wrote the show from their own experience that gives it credibility and guts.

Modern dads are still finding their role. Their models were dads who worked, provided and were absent. "Mother does the nursing, thy father will provide." These young dads are searching in the dark for the rules of being a good dad.

The show is a series of sketches, songs and monologues that reveal the hilarious, painful and poignant moments of fatherhood.
All five attend ante-natal classes in which the fascist midwife torments them with their gender, their ignorance and the impending bloodbath which is childbirth.

Geoff Paine is hilariously accurate in his portrayal of a dad who spends hours patting baby to sleep only to hear the traitorous floorboards creak and wake bub as he creeps out.

Michael Fry forgets his son's birthday then loses one child in the park. Colin James, living the isolated life of a house-husband, must admit he cannot cope alone. Matthew Green sings a beautiful song to his own father and Lliam Amor plays Superdad and makes a list of adorable things about babies.

The impact of children on relationships is highlighted. Sex, or rather the absence of it, features.  Mum feels fat and exhausted. Dad can never say the right thing. When he falls into a "fat trap" or makes the mistake of telling the truth about looking at other women, he calls "Bloke Line" for advice.

The show has variety and skill .It is a far better written and more theatrical piece than Mum's The Word and should haul in a huge audience of dad and mums. Perhaps blokes will go to the pub for a beer then to the theatre for a blokes night out to chuckle over their fatherly foibles.

by Kate Herbert

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