Thursday, 8 February 2001

It's a Dad Thing! Feb 8, 2001

 at Athenaeum Theatre. From Feb 8, 2001
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

This is the third incarnation of It's a Dad Thing! and the best by a long shot. Five men tell tales of the highs and lows of being a dad. They range from the hilarious to the poignant and schmaltzy.

Identification theatre hauls in a huge crowd who never go to the theatre. The idea is that out-of-work-artists find a topic with which a large percentage of the community identify - and then they milk it for laughs.

Wogs out of Work did it for the ethnic community. Mum's the Word did it for mums. Now It's a Dad Thing is doing it to modern fatherhood.

The company comprises five comic actors: Geoff Paine and Matthew Green were part of the original group who co-wrote and performed the show in 1999-2000. Joining them on stage and adding new material are Michael Veitch, Brian Nankervis  and James Sherry.

The laughs are frequent as are the groans of recognition. We see the sleep-deprived dad (Paine) painstakingly patting his baby to sleep then stepping on a creaking floorboard. We witness the fathers' class with a midwife like a sergeant-major who scares them into submission.

Veitch performs  a very witty " whingeing father" political speech and Green plays the father waiting patiently for his wife to want to have sex again. There is even dancing and singing.

There are real stories of the newborn baby is distress (Nankervis) and of the house husband who feels inadequate. (Sherry) and of fathers making disastrous mistakes with their babes. The gasps from the audience were audible as Veitch describes his bubs tumbling off the verandah.

One of the most satisfying sketches, both comically and theatrically, is Paine's farewell to his 1963 EH Holden. The other actors create the car as a cool talking, smooth guy in sunglasses. Who could sell it for a family car after all the fine times it gave him?

Kaarin Fairfax's direction is competent although there are still some bumpy patches. Some scenes are uncomfortable. The fathers' building of a playground acts as a link but works only in part.

The shifts into more serious monologues are not always successful. The material needs some culling still and some of the groups scenes feel awkward.

This is a romp for two hours. It will cheer you up and the theatre is air conditioned for a hot night.

By Kate Herbert

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