David Baddiel is a storyteller. A very, very good storyteller. But more than that, he is funny. He can take what could be considered the most distasteful scenario, the death of a parent for example, and find the humour in it. Love, as David mentions, has no boundaries and here, nestled amongst the giggles and laughs, is where his show excels.
I attended the Playhouse Theatre on a balmy Monday night in London to watch David Baddiel’s My Family: Not the Sitcom with a somewhat compact, but nonetheless star-studded audience containing Michael Palin, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ivor Baddiel, Matthew Wolfenden and Dermot O’Leary, amongst others.
The salient point is that Baddiel could be a bloke in a pub, the sort you want to clap on the back and call mate. He has the audience, celebrity or not, in the palm of his hand. Of course, we all know that his comedic timing is a tour de force. Until now, however, the subject has never been quite so raw and close to home as the passing of his mother and his father’s dementia. Things that, however successful you are in your personal or professional career (and even though you have a Cambridge Degree), cannot be avoided.
He allows us a glimpse into his life, his children, the cats (of which there are many) and his brothers whilst all being neatly intertwined with grasping a hold of the fact that he is in constant fear of being cc’d into an email his mother wrote to her twenty-years-plus lover and of what his father (suffering from Pick’s disease) will say next.
There are the sniggering schoolboy antics that he portrays so well, ‘don’t worry about that noise, it’s my parents having sex’ or the grammar lesson in which we are schooled about the use of inverted commas. This is balanced by the empathy shown to anyone else having to go through their deceased parent’s private papers, although as you will find out, Mrs Baddiel wasn’t adept at keeping things secret.
There is a reason that David Mastered the Masters.
It is fair to say that most people shy away from things that are considered uncomfortable being placed in the public domain. David steps away from this in a manner that is both gentle and heart-warming. This is a show that can split the audience. There are jokes that are the subject of non-jokey matters and very close to the knuckle, there is the sighing and nodding of heads as people sympathise. One thing that united the audience in its entirety was how well received it was. Like it, or loathe it, Baddiel is at his most vulnerable and in his vulnerability lies his strength. This is a show worth watching and if you can’t get to see it at the Playhouse Theatre, it is due to go on a UK tour soon.
Please note: Opinions expressed on the londontheatredirect.com blog are those of the relevant contributors, not of London Theatre Direct Ltd, its owners or staff. London Theatre Direct Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by contributors.