Monday, 6 June 2016

David Baddiel: My Family (Not The Sitcom) @ Menier Chocolate Factory (3rd June 2016)

In some ways David Baddiel shares a trait with Richard Herring in that he mines his own life with fearsome honesty for his material for this show and his inability to lie leads to some eye opening revelations about mainly, his golf memorabilia obsessed late Mum and his faher which has a a form of dementia called Picks disease. When told by the consultant that the symptoms included irritability, lack of patience, swearing, anger etc, David asked “is that a diagnosis or have you just met him?”.

Although he clearly loves his parents he aims to tackle the idea that when we die, suddenly all the mad, unusual and annoying oddness about us is superseded by a notion that we are all wonderful. It’s an examination of how when the person leaves, whether through death or via the slow death of self via dementia our own memories of that person dismiss the imperfections. That the people at his mothers funeral telling him she was a wonderful person, knew little about her life and indeed why she was so special via her personal quirks and adventures.

He indicates how even the way dementia is portrayed is often twisted with his own father being literally the poster boy for a local dementia day centre which he was banned from a week later for punching a bloke cos he had a big nose – as David points out, his was a centre for Jewish people so…..

The revelations about his mothers attitude to sex and relationships are eye opening and all this is told with great wit and to show that these dark subjects and situation do have room for laughter. They are sometimes only bearable with the presence of humour.

Through photographs, film clips and letters and emails he shows us what his family was like, we learn about his mother’s incorrect use of speech marks and too many exclamation marks, his dad’s inappropriate outburst at his mothers funeral that while a result of his illness broke through the conventions of the situation and spoke of who he really was. This was a pretty special show – chock fill of laugh out loud moments but also saying something about how we all live, age and die.

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