Adam Lazarus’s Daughter was written in conjunction with White Ribbon – an organisation devoted to ending domestic and sexual violence as well as reshaping common views on masculinity. You leave this play harrowed and stunned. The content of the show is extremely shocking and may be upsetting for some audience members, but you will agree that it strikes a poignant note regarding sexual politics and opens up important discussions about what it is to be a man.
Lazarus’ performance is hauntingly twisted. He begins the show with light hearted stand-up style storytelling. His words are touching and endearing, building up an intimate connection with his audience. This introduction really showcases Lazarus’ comic timing and charisma, establishing an initial light tone to the piece. Directed by Ann-Marie Kerr, the abstract and non-linear style of this one-man show is extremely enticing. Through Lazarus’s spiralling psyche we catch glimmers of humour, yet each moment is embedded within something deeper. Within the script we see the normalised ‘lad culture’ laid against moments of extreme misogyny, racism and violence, successfully raising questions about this behaviour and its presence in our society.
What is extremely compelling about this play is the discordance between what feels real and what feels very theatrical and scripted. The production is structured within the framework of storytelling. The stories feel very real and relatable; situations like the struggles of being a new parent and losing one’s virginity are discussed. It feels like stand-up for the majority of the show, Lazarus interacting with the audience whilst delivering punch lines, making the moments of drama all the more jarring as they emerge throughout the course of the play. These sections are often highlighted with audio and visual cues, which are successful in distinguishing these critical moments from the more mundane ones. This is important because in some instances elements of the script it feels too casual and conversational when depicting moments of sexual violence. On the one hand, it could be interpreted as normalising these attitudes towards women, but on another level, this twisted satire of an average every day violent misogynist is drawing attention to how these thoughts and attitudes are extremely common in modern society.
The audio and visual moments of this production are incredible. Though they are limited for only the climaxes of the script, they are extremely atmospheric. Composition and sound designer Richard Feren and lighting designer Michelle Ramsay transport the audience out of the conversational style and successfully compliment the moments of abstraction within the script. It is as if the fourth wall is re-built, moving you out of the palm of the protagonist and allows you think about what you have just witnessed and what information you have been given, encouraging you to engage morally within the play.
This production stands as a message about gender politics and violence. This production is extremely raw and difficult to watch. You will come out the other side with a whole new outlook on the definition of masculinity. There is not a definitive conclusion to this show; it poses not as just as an example of toxic masculinity but feels as though it aims to be provocative and overtly shocking in order to get you thinking. It is an excellent example of thought provoking new writing for this year’s Fringe.
CanadaHub @ King’s Hall – Mainspace (Venue 73)
Until 26 August
Image: John Lauener