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Sarah Harpur is one brave and funny lady. Lucky for the crowd at the Fortune Studio tonight, because we all get what we'v come for: an hour of honest laughs, knowing little cringes, and a story that is well worth listening to.
The show is an initiation for new club members to the Dead Dads Club and as such, is terribly well organised by fifteen agenda items and guided by visuals in a slideshow. It has good rhythm, is easy to follow, and never gets dry: before you know it, you’re singing along to ways dads die, hearing the outrageously graphic description of Sarah’s parents inappropriate reunion at her fictitious wedding, or finding out why heaven actually is like hell.
Harpur, Wellington-based and winner for Best Comedy at the Dunedin Fringe 2011, gives a grounded, real, warm and hearty performance. As a big fan of comedic storytelling, but not yet a member of the Dead Dads Club, I love how she tells the story of her (likely reasonably problematic) upbringing with such jest, able to get across the impact, and making light of it in a way that only comes with intelligent reflection.
She elegantly dances between objective honesty and pure love for her father’s conflicting sides, with drink driving, gambling, borderline (but at the time apparently normal) neglect of her and her siblings, the repetitive and unfortunate naming of pets, serious accidents and ultimately suicide all getting a mention.
It’s always good to be walking away from a show with the feeling that by bravely facing the more serious topics of life, we must be doing quite well at being adults. If you need a dose of that feeling, go see Dead Dads Club.
Dead Dads Club
By Sarah Harpur
Directed by Emma Kinane
At Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin Until 13 Mar 2018 (1 hr)
- by Ina Kinski originally for Theatreview