From the slapstick physical beginning of this self-penned one-man monologue, through to the show’s philosophical conclusion, the laughs come thick and fast in
He manages to portray the sheer panic of getting in and out with everything on the list before the baby starts crying, like a wide-eyed, gurning Rowan Atkinson
Chris Dingli does his energetic best to convince the audience why is he is deserving of the title: he never wanted a child to begin with. Despite all the literature pertaining to the miraculous moment of bonding with the newborn, this Bad Dad doesn’t feel a thing when staring into her gooey blue eyes. After leaving the baby in the doctor’s waiting room (he really should have done his homework when it comes to prams), Dad is just like any other first time parent: sleep-deprived, baffled and just trying to do his best.
Writer/director/performer Chris Dingli breaks up his comedic monologue with music, sound, mime, and also by playing every character we meet along the way. These include his long suffering wife, the patronising ante-natal nurse, competitive Dads who discussing pram specs as though they were racing cars and the unfortunate neighbours who pop round for a cup of tea when Bad Dad has run out of milk (well, milk from a cow anyway).
Dingli is a skilful physical theatre actor and the slow motion supermarket section is hilarious. He manages to portray the sheer panic of getting in and out with everything on the list before the baby starts crying, like a wide-eyed, gurning Rowan Atkinson.
There are some truly cringe-worthy moments too, when Dingli’s gag-reflex is tested to its limits, with the results being pretty hard to swallow. Maybe the water bottle he keeps slipping off stage to sip from would interrupt the proceedings less if it didn’t have a lid that needed unscrewing every time he needed a drink but it’s a small irritation in an otherwise faultless performance. It’s no wonder he’s thirsty but maybe a strategically placed glass would suffice.
Cleverly, the lightness of the show is balanced with some poignancy and through a potentially dangerous situation he forges the bonds with his baby that have so far eluded him. Now he knows he has something that he loves even more than cake.
At the beginning of his exhausting fifty-minute monologue, Dingli asks who in the audience has kids, who doesn’t and who wants kids in the future. The show appeals to all of the above with the new parent perspective ingeniously slanted from the man’s side, for a refreshingly honest change.
He leaves us pondering the Maltese tradition of choosing the child’s future c/o a tray with a collection of carefully chosen objects. Sometimes life gives you what you need, not always what you would necessarily choose, but that’s not bad, is it?