Delinquent Dad review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image above: John Gorick as Robert, the ‘Delinquent Dad’ of the title

Theatre at the Tabard’s latest in-house production

Apparently 42% marriages in the UK end in divorce, mostly citing ‘unreasonable behaviour’. Many couples decide to call it a day once their children have grown up and left home, so the scenario of Delinquent Dad, in which a sixty something man finds himself couch surfing with his son and his girlfriend, having been thrown out by his wife, may strike an uncomfortable chord with some amongst Chiswick audiences.

The play opens with the young couple Matt and Cara preparing for Matt’s parents to come for dinner, where Cara will be meeting them for the first time. As it turns out it’s just Robert, the father, clutching a hold-all.

Image above: John Gorick and Elizabeth Back as Robert and Cara

Cara, played by Elizabeth Back, is not the nervous, unconfident type. While she is eager to please, within the confines of the social niceties of such a situation, she quickly takes charge and though having her boyfriend’s father kipping on the sofa in their small, cramped apartment is inconvenient, she forms an amiable bond with him, finding the range of unreasonable behaviours which has led him into this pickle both fascinating and entertaining, which gives her character a pleasingly unstereotypical depth.

“If you were a lot – a lot younger – I’d go there myself” she offers, a gesture received as it is meant, as a kind thought, as Robert struggles with the issue of whether he has it in him to rekindle a romance with an old flame at his time of life, when “everything aches”. (Not surprising given his height and the size of that sofa).

John Gorick plays Robert as a slightly bewildered victim of circumstance. As far as he is concerned life has conspired to land him in this mess. As he sees it, none of the colourful events which spill out as the play unfolds are of his making, caused by his own selfishness and bad judgement, and he is still half hoping the residue of his charm will see him through.

(As Cara says, you would go there, but you would most definitely throw him out once you got to know him properly and you wouldn’t want to rely on him to feed the cat, let alone look after your family finances).

Image above: Bradley Crees as Matt

Matt (Bradley Crees) is an idealistic and angry young man, who deals with his parents with tolerance and maturity, has a good relationship with his girlfriend but is waging a righteous war against the landlord, which leads us into the other half of what’s happening in this dystopian farce (is that a genre?)

There are bailiffs camped outside trying at every opportunity to gain access and evict them, while social order appears to be breaking down in the badlands of Surrey, with rioting and looting as the police and firemen strike. (It’s set “about six months from now” says producer Simon Thomsett).

Image above: John Gorick and Mark Parsons 

The fourth member of the cast, Mark Parsons, plays a shifty character, a financial adviser who appears to have had a hand in bringing about both Matt and Cara’s siege and Robert’s marital expulsion. He plays it with admirable weasliness and contributes mightily to the increasingly farcical denouement.

Delinquent Dad is great fun, moving at pace, carried along by strong performances from all the cast and a very witty script. It’s a good night out, funny, entertaining and thought provoking. Very skilfully handled by director Nick Bromley and the in-house production team.

The choice of music for the scene changes – the electronic version of Grieg’s In The Hall of the Mountain King as a nod to Peer Gynt is inspired.

Photographs by Matt Collins.

Delinquent Dad runs until 28 Saturday October.

Book tickets here: tabard.org.uk

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