FRINGE TORONTO: Like Father, Like Son? Sorry, Review by Katherine Sanders

Like Father, Like Son? Sorry.

Written and performed by Chris Gibbs

Presented at Factory Theatre Mainspace, 125 Bathurst Street


Friday July 10th 4:00 pm
Saturday July 11 5:45 pm

I have watched Chris Gibbs' career for 10 years now - from his wildly successful street performance duo Hoopal, through sold-out solo shows on the Fringe Festival circuit, to steal-the-show type roles in local hits such as An Inconvenient Musical and as a member of the elite "Carnegie Hall" and "Impromptu Splendour" crowd. I've even seen his recent turn starring in the Indie film Run Robot Run. But never have I seen as much of Chris Gibbs as I did in his latest one-man show, Like Father, Like Son? Sorry.

Gibbs became a father 2 years ago, with the birth of his son Beckett (the name choice is one of the early stand-out jokes in the show). This show is a collection of anecdotes about fatherhood, strung together with the most minimal of props and costumes. Gibbs speeds through stories of his son's caesarean birth, his first efforts at speech and movement, stories you'd expect to hear in a play like this, peppered with bizarre musings from Gibbs' pre-Beckett life. It's a laugh-a-minute romp and Gibbs is a charming performer.

That said, in the performance I saw on Tuesday, Gibbs didn't seem quite as confident and in-control as he's been in the past. He threw some jokes away and sped through some anecdotes so quickly that I missed a few things. It's almost as if he doesn't trust that we'll go along with him on this journey. Often in his solo work he is disguised (however thinly) behind character and comedy. Even though all his characters are basically him, this show is really about HIM. We see him exposed as never before - and I think that's exactly the point. Becoming a father has given him that vulnerability, so talking about it onstage in front of an audience, he can't help but reveal that.

But unlike so many one-man tell-all shows that you see on the Fringe, this one has the weight of Gibbs' experience and craftsmanship behind it. After so many wickedly funny years, he has earned the right to take a few moments to be himself. We'll go along with him because we trust that he's taking us somewhere worthwhile. So it was odd to see him being almost apologetic for taking up our time with such personal material. But the most intimate moments which he zoomed past were what made this show distinct from all his other work, and I would have liked to have seen more of that. If he were to ask me I'd give him the same advice about this show as I would about being a dad: slow down, breath deeply, trust your instincts and it will all turn out fine.

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