Venue: The Space Theatre
Performance Date: 26 July 2019
Star Rating: ★★★1/2
Parenthood is a one-way ticket, no refunds no exchanges, you get what you’re given and be grateful. The husband and wife team behind Fluffy Top Productions, Emily and Pete Moody, have created a modern, vibrant and original musical which celebrates that very thing. Laugh-out-loud funny and wholly relatable, the show explores the highs and lows of parenthood and everything in between. With some catchy musical numbers thrown in, Parenthood is incredibly tongue-in-cheek but also at times unexpectedly emotional.
The show successfully captures key moments in a parent’s life. The initial euphoria, sleepless nights, frustration, the dreaded school nativity, teenage angst and ultimately the nest being flown. Each milestone is believably and cleverly covered with more than a dash of irony. The show also skilfully represents all types of parenting styles, from the overbearing parents who demand perfection to those who let their children run wild. Billed as a revue, the piece stays true to the genre with short punchy scenes delivering a particular moment in the constantly evolving journey of parenthood.
A true ensemble piece, the cast pull out all the stops in the stifling heat of The Space Theatre. Energetic and enthusiastic, they deliver a polished and committed performance. Emily Clare, in particular, offers some significant light and shade in her portrayal. Her nuanced performance is captured beautifully as she sings a tear-jerking ballad, in which she longs for the support and guidance of her mother. Later her comedic timing shines through during a hilarious scene involving spicing up her sex life thanks to inspiration from 50 Shades Of Grey. She is complemented in droves by Jordan Brown who plays her husband. It is perhaps thanks to the rich writing for this couple that their performances stand out. Out of the four couples in the show, they are by far the most developed and believable.
Despite featuring a same-sex female couple, they are sadly the least developed. The couple is incredibly underwritten and underused which is a shame as it would have been nice to see a more rounded representation of same-sex parents. That said, Astra Beadle and Naomi Jones do extremely well with the material and flit between their multiple roles with ease. It’s almost unfair to single out individual performances as the small cast of nine each brings their own individuality to the piece.
Parenthood does feel a touch am-dram at times, but that is likely in part due to it’s staging. The Space Theatre is a former church hall which gives the production more of a village performance feel. This isn’t a criticism by any means, indeed it would be interesting to see the piece performed in a larger space given that the stage at times feels crowded. There were also a few sound issues on the night which could do with being remedied.
If you are a parent, a grandparent, or plan on never having children you will relate to this piece of theatre. It is cleverly layered, incredibly true to life, and above all it’s funny. Yes, Parenthood may need a little polishing but it is an original British musical with bags of potential. It is only on for one more night, go and give it a look – you won’t regret it.