My Family: Not The Sitcom

Published May 18, 2016

What’s it all about?

Basically, David Baddiel spends two hours talking about his parents, Sarah and Colin. His mother died several months ago and his father suffers from dementia. Perhaps not what you would consider appropriate comedy material, but Baddiel hopes to prove that wrong and demonstrates that comedy is in fact the perfect, and perhaps only, medium in which such issues can be discussed.

Set against a backdrop of family portraits, baby photographs and old-fashioned wallpaper, Baddiel converts a large picture frame into a screen and takes us on a whistle-stop tour of his parents’ lives, recounting their relationship with one another, with himself, and in particular his mother’s long-lasting extramarital affair, of which she was extremely proud. 

But this is far more than a bit of light-hearted nostalgia, which Baddiel takes great care to emphasise. It is about the limits of comedy and the restrictions that we set  for ourselves to avoid discussing painful topics. Baddiel argues that truth does not conform to boundaries and restrictions, and thus does not so much step over them as leap headfirst, discussing his mother’s sex life and his father’s swearing in a frank and detached manner that only serves to make everything funnier. 

Who’s in it?

Err… David Baddiel. That’s it. Though you could argue that, via the many photographs and memories shared throughout the performance, Sarah and Colin Baddiel are there too, laying themselves bare for the world to see. And while Baddiel is in complete control of the stage, holding the audience in the palm of his hand, his parents definitely get the most laughs.

What should I look out for?

Sarah Baddiel’s  hilarious emails, letters and poetry. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any funnier, Baddiel reveals more and more brilliant material with perfect comic precision. You’ll never be able to look at a set of inverted commas in the same way again.

In a nutshell?

Who Do You Think You Are? meets You’ve Been Framed in this hilarious and touching portrayal of David Baddiel’s parents.

What’s being said on Twitter?

 

Will I like it?

If you go expecting a fully dramatised account of Baddiel’s family tree you are likely to be disappointed. There is no suspension of disbelief here, but nor should there be; the comedy works because the material is utterly, hilariously true.

Though the show takes the fact that Sarah Baddiel has died as its premise, this is not a show about death. It is about life, and the oddities and idiosyncrasies that form someone’s existence, suggesting that the only predictable thing about humans is our sheer capability to utterly defy expectation. The result is a show that is as moving and thought provoking as it is funny (and it’s really, really funny). Baddiel himself described the show as a form of love letter to his parents, and it is a joy to share in their crazy, colourful lives with him. 

My Family: Not The Sitcom plays at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 25 June. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.