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No Son of Mine, by Rufus Jones and Alex Kirk

Wednesday, 15 September, 2010

Father and Son

Edinburgh – Pleasance Courtyard – 4 – 30 Aug 10 – 15:15 (1.00)

No Son of Mine is a comedy play exploring the relationship between Dennis Hazeley and his father, Don.

Dennis is an aspiring actor who has brought his play, ‘Afghan Hounds’ to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, only to have his co-star drop out at the last minute.  Dennis is an endearingly insecure character, who apologises frequently in his desperation for audience approval.  His original play is laughably poor, lacking in both cast and confidence, but the show must go on.

When Dennis’ father Don turns up unexpectedly, and late, to ‘support’ his son, the outcome is excruciatingly embarrassing for Dennis, already struggling with his failing play.  He tries to continue, but has to battle constant interruptions and personal interjections from his father.  Performing is Dennis’ dream, but Don finds it hard to accept that his son has chosen such a creative and flamboyant path in life.  ‘Afghan Hounds’ is, thankfully, soon abandoned as Dennis’ priority becomes salvaging his dignity in front of his audience.

Dennis has to endure his father’s politically incorrect views and jokes, spanning racism and homophobia, and repeatedly attempts to make him leave.  As Dennis squirms, he effectively removes some of the discomfort and awkwardness of this type of humour.  By providing a character whose politically incorrect views and jokes leave his son cringing, the duo invite the audience to laugh aloud without feeling too uncomfortable.  Dennis is clearly worried about how the audience will react, and therefore, there is a recognition that these views may cause offence.  In fact it is Dennis who is most offended by the views of his father, and by the fact Don cannot accept his life choices, and watching Dennis try to minimise the damage caused is the funniest part.  His over sensitivity is in direct contrast to Don’s total lack of tact, an entertaining combination.  The succession of bad jokes in bad taste, as Don delights in winding up Dennis, is just the right side of wrong, and the audience was laughing out loud throughout.

As Don tries to find Dennis a girlfriend, tells stories from his childhood, and eventually reveals the wonderful ‘magic hand trick’, possibly the best of all the world’s dad jokes, the relationship between the two men goes through many ups and downs.  Dennis and Don are so convincing in their respective humility and pomposity that many will feel they know someone just like this. David Brent from The Office might ring a bell.  While real affection between the two is apparent, a parent turning up unannounced in the domain of the offspring is the kind of horrifying situation that many can relate to, and highlights a generation gap that exists in many families with but which is rarely addressed or explored.

The characters in No Son of Mine are exceptionally believable, surprising likeable, and endearingly normal.  Combining excellent timing, insightful social observations and terrible ‘dad jokes’, this play is original, and very funny.

Cast credits:  Rufus Jones – Dennis Hazeley.   Alex Kirk – Don Hazeley.

Company credits:  Writers – Rufus Jones and Alex Kirk.

(c) Claire Higgins 2010

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