Raise Your Hand If You Want Dad To Die at Theatre 503

With a short 2 night run (17-18th September 2021) at Theatre 503, Raise Your Hand If You Want Dad To Die looks at the chaos that might ensue should the technology be developed to allow for death-swapping. I loved this concept so was interested to see what playwright Clare O’Flaherty would do with it, but unfortunately the show doesn’t live up to the promise of the concept. I expected a dark, farcical comedy but this felt more like a dated sitcom. A canned laughter track would not have been out of place.

The cast of 6 (Emma Richardson, Joshua Ford, James Georgiou, Rachelle Grubb, Ryan Wilson and Coral Tarran) directed by Coral Tarran, throw themselves into the piece with the required gusto to carry the increasingly ridiculous and inconsistent plot. Don’t get me wrong, there are laughs in the show, but with so many gags stacked into each scene a large proportion simply don’t have the space or right to land. It would help if there was a clear underlying message to anchor the jokes around, but instead they are a scatter-gunned mix of topical references, family in-jokes/bullying and old school gags and tropes that would be more at home back in the 90s. It is a shame that such a fresh, original concept is delivered in such an uncomfortably retro style. That juxtaposition might well have been a deliberate choice, but I am unclear why it was made.

The pacing is also off, with some scenes dragging, while others are galloped through. Overall it feels too long and too unfocused. This is a show that is still working out what it actually is, and as a result it is trying to do too much. This company are brimming with ambition and talent, but with no clear vision to hold the show together, the end result feels flabby, chaotic and unsatisfying.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

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