It’s a shame circumstances prevented us seeing ‘Sunny Boy’, the sequel to ‘Dead Dad Dog’, but, 35 years on from its debut in the late 80’s, with the luxury of hindsight, the original play delivered some unexpectedly poignant twists and turns. The historical context more clearly defined, the father/son relationship represented not just the uneasy shift between generations, but also the seismic changes affecting Scotland as ‘Thatcherism’ took the entire UK down and up a new capitalism rollercoaster designed to replace the coal, steel and shipbuilding industries finally forced to give in to global economic pressures. Traditional pubs faced the threat of imported concepts like ‘Brasseries’ and the ‘Smoked Sausage Supper’ was besieged by a thing called Broccoli. ‘Looks like unripe cauliflower’, observes Dad.
In front of a collage of concert posters, music press articles and adverts featuring The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen and Red Wedge, upon a solitary chair, Eck (Alexander Dundee, played by Angus Miller) is preparing for an important day involving an interview at the BBC and a date with Roseanne. But Dad (Liam Brennan) turns up. Dad, who’s been dead for 12 years. A ghost, but a loud, interfering one, from lapels to laconic one-liners. And everyone else can see him, it’s no ‘Sixth Sense’ thing that Eck can keep secret. He even has to pay him on to the bus on the way to the BBC for his interview. Time hasn’t dated much of the wit, repartee or references as sensitive Eck tries to keep the unreconstructed pest at a safe distance and things move along at a jaunty pace, Scots vernacular to the fore. That this script (John McKay) has survived so many years is testament to director Liz Carruthers’ instinct in reviving it. Spoiler (sort of!) alert, a touch of sadness at the end provides a happy ending. Seems the love between a father and son can still be strong enough to survive material changes and circumstances. Can’t wait for Sunny Boy.
Reviewer: Roger Jacobs
Reviewed: 1st November 2023
North West End UK Rating: