Maegan Farrow reviews the debut play from The Caravan Guys at the Alma Tavern Theatre.
‘How To Beat Up Your Dad’ is the debut play from The Caravan Guys – a two-man theatre company based in London but originally from North East England, made up of Theo Mason Wood and Albert Haddenham.
The play’s high energy opening promises a hilarious and thrilling performance to come. The audience is introduced to Amon, the central character whose childhood and growth into manhood we witness through snapshots of his life-defining moments. Difficult themes are tackled with a masterful and considerate hand throughout the play, ranging from the effects of toxic masculinity on young men today, to the repression of traumatic memories from childhood experiences.
The first few scenes challenge the audience, what with the introduction of Amon naked and exposed on stage as a clear reflection of his vulnerability. The audience is asked to trust the performers and that trust is not misplaced. We are led by the hand through difficult – yet hysterical – scenes filled with strong imagery and dialogue.
Amon is eventually clothed as the power dynamic begins to shift between the performers. Dialogue at the beginning of the performance becomes vital to the narrative and contributes to the the underlying message at the end. It is a clever work of art, never straying too far from the central ideas or making the audience excessively uncomfortable, despite the huge potential for this to happen.
Theo Mason Wood and Albert Haddenham make an excellent and incredibly relevant point within this play about the continuum of violence. Specifically, how violence is inherited and normalised for men nowadays and is then passed on through generations. The point is made subtly, hidden behind a charismatic performance and a barrage of instantly iconic funny moments.
The considerate use of content warnings at ticket collection ensured the audience knew what they were in for right from the start. But, beyond this, they also signalled that the audience’s well-being was thought of by those telling this story. At the end of the play, Albert Haddenham invites the audience to speak with either creator if they wish to discuss any of the tough themes explored in the play. This was a refreshing acknowledgment that these themes are unfortunately familiar to us, but that we can speak about them and support each other through these hardships.
An equally heartwarming and heart-wrenching experience and one I wouldn’t have missed for the world; this play is incredibly relevant in today’s climate without being preachy. ‘How To Beat Up Your Dad’ contains something compellingly human that made me want to tell everybody I know to go and watch it if they ever have the chance.