Week One Reviews – Daddy

Following his success as part of last year’s smash-hit ‘The Importance of Being Ernest as Performed by Three Fucking Queens and a Duck’, Australian writer and performer Brent Thorpe (one of the aforementioned Fucking Queens) returns with his brand-new show ‘Daddy’, directed by former State Theatre Company of South Australia artistic director Adam Cook.

The venue is DV8, an exciting addition to the IDGTF family in 2023, and this will be our Wild West: anything goes in here! We are greeted by the sight of Daddy’s Boys, Jack Misch and Patrick Phillips, in harness, jocks and singlets, cheeky winks and teasing smiles, grinding and writhing like a scene from a Berlin leather bar, before being joined by Thorpe, the titular Daddy.

This may feel like familiar territory for gay theatre, but soon comes the storm that rips our house from its foundations and transports us to the magical land of Oz. Everything is not as it seems. ‘Daddy’ is fascinating in that it is concurrently exactly the show you think it is and the show you least expect it to be.

It’s sexy, sweaty, and downright dirty, with tales of sexual encounters and glorious filth aplenty, yet it combines this with academic explorations of the queer canon, from Walt Odets to John Waters, and heart-warning stories form yesteryear. The show plays with style and format, with dance, storytelling, Ted Talk and stand-up all rolled into one. Thorpe has razor sharp delivery and a charming, engaging stage presence. Misch and Phillips have mastered their brief as Daddy’s Boys, lending a musicality and physicality to the show with their obvious talents.

At its heart, this is a coming-of-age story. The intriguing twist is that this man’s coming-of-age takes place after his 50th birthday. The show shoots from the hip, with acid-tongued bile and Aussie brashness at its finest, but below the surface is poignancy, vulnerability and a search for self. In the inter-generational conversation within the show, Daddy is a gay Benjamin Button, a man finding the liberation of his inner child the older he gets, whilst accepting the responsibility of educating his boys on their queer history, a charge that being an elder within the community brings. It’s a fascinating dichotomy that plays out through the course of the show.

In one unforgettable moment on his journey through hedonism and self-discovery, Daddy goes to some extreme places and sexual practices. And when I say extreme, I mean it really does go THERE. But this is not mindless sensationalism. Like all the great performance artists, satirists and provocateurs, there is a powerful, political punch at play. For many years gay men have lived in shame. Sadly, many still do. I was reminded of similar themes explored in Alan Downs’ ‘The Velvet Rage’ and its literary descendant, Matthew Todd’s ‘Straight Jacket’. It is this shame that ‘Daddy’ rallies against, urging us to be ourselves, in all our devilish glory. In the quest to achieve this, nothing can be nor should be taboo.

Sure, this show is not one for the faint of heart, but queer theatre at its best should never be for the faint of heart. The collective experience of our community has not been tame. We have been silenced in our closets for generations, but now we are stepping out and telling our stories loud and proud. For 21 years Dublin has provided the platform for LGBTQ+ artists to do just that. And at a time when, as the play reminds us, Drag Queen Storytimes and Pride events are being cancelled by a wave of right-wing hostility, our strength comes in our visibility, diversity and unity.

Such is the joy of ‘Daddy’; such is the importance of the IDGTF.

Rob Ward.


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