In 2012, comedian Laurence Clark starred in BBC1’s documentary ‘We Won’t Drop the Baby’ which followed his family’s journey as they welcomed their second child into the world. The worldwide response was unprecedented and among the uplifting and supportive comments were others that were downright rude and derogatory.
During his one-man performance, Laurence screens some of these negative comments as a backdrop video and then we have the pleasure of watching and listening to his two young son’s personal responses to them. The outcome is hilarious when these two young boys make their uncomplicated, guileless and apposite comments. “What does she mean?” the youngest boy asks his brother on reading one of the comments posted online. “Mum and dad shouldn’t have been born? But we are all born to be born!” And commenting on other vitriolic posts, the eldest boy pronounces: “I think they were brought up by people who don’t love them.”
Laurence studied for a PhD in Liverpool and has settled and brought up his family there. Their boys have obviously inherited their father’s insightful sense of humour, displayed when we hear their incredulity on reading one comment about cerebral palsy being hereditary, the eldest boy says, “Cerebral Palsy cannot be passed through genes!”
The youngest adds: “It’s not asthma!”
When Laurence was growing up he had never seen a dad with cerebral palsy so it never occurred to him that he would be a parent himself. However, on meeting, Adele, his future wife, she made it abundantly clear that she wanted babies, as he says during the show – it is a pretty strong opening line!
Laurence takes us on a brutally honest, comical and charismatic journey of what it is really like to be a disabled parent. He also shares with us, his love of all things ‘Doctor Who’, of turning his youngest’s son in his baby walker into a Dalek by using his crutch and a toilet brush, and his sadness that his eldest now prefers football to Tardis. Laurence expands on this transition of his son’s affection from ‘Dr Who’ to the beautiful game, citing the blame on himself – “But aren’t you supposed to brain wash your kids into hating the things you hate?”
Hilarious and moving, this performance asks some tough questions about society and the perception we have of those who do not follow societal norms.
Whether as child or a parent we all know that dads can be embarrassing – its part of the job description – and Laurence has fulfilled his role well. But to call him irresponsible? Never!
An Irresponsible Father’s Guide to Parenting was at The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays on 19 September as part of Sick! Festival 2019 which runs from 18-21 September 2019.
Read our review of Let’s Talk About Dis from Candoco Dance at Sick Festival! 2019.
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