My Dad's Crazier Than Your Dad: A Scientific Inquiry
nytheatre.com review by Joe Beaudin
August 14, 2010
Solo shows. They can be self-righteous, self-important, or watch-me-play-nine-hundred-characters-on-stage. They can span the lifetime of an average person, and you will feel as though you have...spanned the lifetime of that average person. (Am I bitter?) Luckily, Katharine Heller's show, My Dad's Crazier Than Your Dad: A Scientific Inquiry, is NONE of those things.
This autobiographical piece zeros in on one specific and very major aspect of a young woman's life: her crazy-insane father. Dressed in a white lab coat and dark-rimmed glasses, Katharine guides the audience through an analytical experiment, setting out to prove her theory. With the use of charts, pictures, videos, graphs, and stories, she presents clear evidence and entertaining facts. The material is interesting and convincing to say the least. It ultimately provides an understanding of these bizarre events that took place, not just for the audience, but for Katharine herself, as she poignantly creates her own coping mechanism.
There are two things that make this show work:
- It never strays from its format. Katharine and director Nell Balaban keep us in the same atmosphere throughout, a sort of theatrical classroom. There's a chalkboard, a screen for projecting charts and photographs, and Katharine herself commanding the stage as she lectures her students. It would have been easier to just have Katharine conjure up annoying voices and don multiple costumes, but this show takes the high road, and cleverly stays true to its roots and purpose.
- Katharine's vulnerability. In the show, Katharine not only provides us with true stories, but also presents us with actual evidence. For example, she projects on the screen at one point an actual e-mail sent to her from her father. In another moment in the show, she reads a very personal letter. This struck me as being quite brave. For the art of her piece and possibly for the therapy of it all, she presents herself true and naked to the audience, rather than hiding behind a character or song.
Katharine is very funny, and you see this in the show. But I wish her quirky personality was utilized more. There are great moments where she is dancing around during set changes, and also a nice audience participation moment. Adding more things like this to the show would have shaken things up a little and changed the pace.
In conclusion though, my conclusion is: go see this show.