Debbie Does My Dad, at EdinburghWednesday, 24 August, 2011
Living up to expectations
Edinburgh – Bedlam Theatre – 5-27 August 2011 – 2300 (1hr)
Beginning this solo piece about his experience growing up as the son of a porn star, Bobby Gordon takes to the stage initially as a lecturer or teacher, but he quickly becomes the awkward child he claims he was as an eight year old.
Bobby Gordon says his spent his childhood ‘in the shadow of his dad’s erection”, but then the advice he got from the man himself was that his genitals are a rudder for a man to steer himself and as such he should just grab his dick – whether to regain confidence, to cure headaches or anything else. Frankly, it was a cure for anything.
This is a theatrically staged piece with effective and distinct changes of light in particular. The delivery is also quite theatrical – even though it is Bobby Gordon’s personal story, there are times when he doesn’t quite seem to be delivering it personally. The protective barriers sometimes spring up when performers are revealing aspects of themselves and maybe that was what was happening here.
His delivery is filled with variety and is engaging, whether as the small child, the awkward teenager and even to an extent as his own mother. The decision to wrap her in a blanket like an elderly woman seems strange though.
Bobby Gordon’s story details the difficulties he faced with growing up as the son of a porn star, particularly with friends who had seen his father’s work – which Bobby Gordon claims to be fictional.
The show also touches upon the decision for Howie Gordon (whose performing name was Richard Pacheco) to leave the professional when AIDS was beginning to emerge.
Most of Bobby Gordon’s material shows him grappling with a way to establish relationships with the opposite sex as well shake off concerns about whether he can live up to his dad’s reputation.
As aspects of his childhood are examined the added use of sound on top of the dramatic lighting changes adding colour. The theme tunes to Superman and Mission Impossible don’t just add a sense of the time but also have messages within themselves – the former relates to how he will be seen because of how people see his dad, and the latter is used during a daring raid on a stash of pornographic magazines.
This is a warmly presented piece which poses some interesting questions. The main focus is what can you learn from a porn star parent and also, how can you rebel against them as you grow up. It’s a touching show about the difficulty of living up to high expectations, but its overall message is that we are, after all, human and should be aware of our sensitivities and desire for tenderness.
Writer/performer – Bobby Gordon. Director – D’Lo. Producer – Lyzz Schwegler
© Chandrika Chevli 2011
Reviewed 22 August 2011