Minding Dad is a masterful production

Minding Dad
Venue: McManus Studio
Troupe Name: TheatrePublic
Troupe Origin: Edmonton, AB
Playwright: Kenneth Brown
Featuring: Kenneth Brown, Jon Paterson
Warnings: Mild Language
Audience: General Entertainment, Drama
Ticket Price: $10.00
Show Length: 60min
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - 7:30pm
Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 7:30pm
Saturday, June 15, 2013 - 3:30pm
Sunday, June 16, 2013 - 6:00pm

Letters  in Wartime was a critically acclaimed show at last year’s Fringe and a personal favourite of my own. This year Kenneth Brown , who wrote and directed that production, offers Minding Dad, as playwright and co-star with Jon Paterson. It does not disappoint.

The play explores many facets of a relationship between father and son, shifting skillfully back and forth between the present, where Dan (Paterson) visits his father at a nursing home and takes him out  for drives, and various moments in their past, when  Dad ‘s memory and status in the world were both more solid.

Writing, acting and direction blend seamlessly to illuminate the subtleties of a multi-layered relationship over time, events and the varied moods of the two men. We see Dan expressing kindness and frustration simultaneously as he patiently responds to his father’s repetitive questions and Dad’s comprehension can turn on a dime, leaving his son in awe at the flashes of insight and intellect.

The set is minimal and the actors’ mimicking of  routine tasks like getting Dad’s seatbelt to stay out and fastened or loading and unloading the walker from the trunk, remind us of all the routine effort it can take to help someone who is no longer able to do these things for themselves.

Both men are single, angry at times about their lives, and lonely. Some of their conversations take place in an almost parallel fashion, increasing their sense  of isolation. But underneath it all, in their shared everyday moments, is a connection of the heart that far outweighs any problems of cognition.

Following  the performance Brown and Paterson invited the audience to celebrate the Fringe, asking each of us to pass on information about the Festival  to one person who may not be aware of  it. I share their passion for this event. I have attended each year and, as audience member and writer have enjoyed performances of varying skill, learning much that is valuable about what doesn’t work as well as what succeeds. Minding Dad is a masterful production  and one more reason to be grateful for this feast of theatre and the arts. Be sure to include it in your Fringe experience!

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Susannah Joyce has published poetry and articles in various Canadian journals and has written a number of books on community involvement and people who have a disability. Recently she was a contributor to Jack Layton: Art in Action, Quattro Books. Theatre and film are ongoing passions and she is completing work on a two woman show based on characters from the novels of L.M Montgomery.