Saturday, November 26

Daddy Issues – Seven Dials Playhouse

I really, really wanted to love Daddy Issues. I envisaged finding it funny, but challenging, and thought provoking; it sounded right up my street and at 75 minutes with no interval, it felt like a perfect Thursday evening activity to accompany a late dinner with a friend.

And don’t get me wrong, there was much that I did enjoy. The height of this was Bebe Cave’s performance as Imi, our protagonist, who held the audience spellbound for the whole of this one-woman show. She is, frankly, flawless – with her portrayal taking us on an emotional journey that borders on exhausting. Friendly and full of self-deprecating humour one minute and genuinely unsettling the next, Cave is bubbling over with talent and is undoubtably the best thing about this production.

Also deserving of a mention is the set design (Andrew Exeter) which is fun but fitting for the setting of Imi’s Granny Annex, and the writing. The dialogue is witty and swift, and Imi feels believable – like that friend of a friend who’s always a bit OTT on a night out.

Sadly, though, there were parts of Daddy Issues that I didn’t like. The unfolding story covers suicide, loss, mental health, anger, denial and a host of other things besides, but not in a way that I found complete or satisfying. In trying to tell the stories of other people, it feels a bit like writer Lewis Cornay has taken on too much and left us with a cacophony of voices rather than a coherent narrative. There’s also perhaps some trimming of the script to be done, as areas of the story felt laboured – I felt it could have been cut to under an hour or expanded to include more characters and divided into two acts rather than one. In terms of the staging, the seating in the theatre is tightly tiered and much of the action takes place on the floor, so there were a lot of craned necks and action missed amongst the audience. Without giving too much away, I’ve also never been a fan of unseen voiceovers either. While this was initially well done, I felt it had been overdone by the end and the opportunity to change my mind about using this as a successful way of moving a plot along was lost.

Although difficult to avoid when tackling such issues, the play is also bleak – at times starkly so. It definitely won’t be for everyone, and unfortunately it wasn’t really for me, but fans of Bebe Cave, or indeed Sir Cliff Richard, might find that there’s enough here for a satisfying evening of theatre.

Daddy Issues runs at Seven Dials Playhouse until 19th November,

Reviewer: Zoё Meeres

Reviewed: 27th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★