Writer: Simon David
Director: Chris Larner
Anyone who rhymes the words ‘wearing a beret’ to ‘ Timothée Chalamet’ deserves a strong four-star review. And this line comes right at the start of Simon David’s very funny one-man show about the death of his father. The rest of the show does not disappoint.
Over My Dad’s Body is a clever examination of grief, and of the guilt that comes when a parent dies. What should he do when his father dies of cancer? Put on a show? A comedy? As disrespectful as this seems David is only following in his father’s footsteps. And he’s fully aware, making jokes that underline this knowingness, that the show is all about him, ‘me myself and Si.’
This is not to say that this show –or ‘piece’ as David suggests, lending his performance some ironic gravitas – has no heart, but it is never sentimental. Some parts are very moving like the scene when he travels by train back to Newcastle when his father takes a turn for the worse. He’s performed this journey a few times already, but now he repeats it in silence, and the chair upon his shoulder becomes another kind of burden.
But more often the play is funny, and some of the humour is very smart indeed. The opening song, I’m Gay, is hilarious and David’s voice is excellent too. The song receives a reprise towards the end, and the audience, with a little persuading, join in too. It’s a joyous conclusion, but this doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten his father. And nor have we. David’s father appears on screen talking about his impending demise, and, while his presence is chilling, his words that we should see life as a dance give his son permission to continue.
We can only hope that this show has a future after the VAULT Festival. Brutally honest, and life-affirming, Over My Dad’s Body speaks to anyone who has lost someone dear.
Reviewed on 1 February 2020