Writers: Oddie Braddell &James Walmsley
Director: Megan Riordan
Reviewer: Ciara Murphy
Oddie Braddell’s one man exploration into the annals of his family history, takes its audience on an entertaining journey through the ages.
As the audience makes their way into Project Arts Centre’s Cube, a fife and drum soundtrack accompanies the entrance. If this wasn’t the first hint at Braddell’s family background, a strategically placed bowler hat sets you on the right track. As the audience settles in for their lesson in family history it’s clear that Braddell is taking a more hands on approach than your usual family tree analyst.
Braddell openly pokes fun at his family’s Protestant background with a series of humorous representations of his ancestors. From his distant grandfather, a soldier in the Cromwellian army, to his own childhood story, Braddell wins over the audience with his casual approach and enthusiastic energy.
The set is designed by Laura de Burca and seems to encompass several different eras. A table consisting of a kettle, a toaster, and various other breakfast making ingredients is evidently the main focus as Braddell absent-mindedly makes toast throughout the performance. The significance of this act ties in with his own personal story which is well framed and surprisingly candid. Braddell moves well within the space and looks at home there.
Despite the abundance of comedy in Braddell’s retelling of his ancestry, in Bastard: A Family History, Braddell succeeds in subtely representing the darker and more troubling parts of his upbringing, most notably his struggle to find his own personal identity. As the performance nears its ending, the audience discover the true reason for this historical exploration. Although Braddell’s upbringing might be far from where most of us were reared, he states that he really is just like the rest of us.
Entertaining and open, Bastard: A Family History, is an amusing take on ancestry, childhood and the influence of family.
Photo courtesy of Tiger Dublin Fringe. Runsuntil 12th September.