A polished and intriguing personal tale about one man’s search for his place in his family and in the world.
The shelves onstage are covered with boxes and various ephemera. Mclaughlin comes on reading a magazine about behavioural genetics, but soon dismisses it as too complex. He brings up the idea of an inherited personality and then goes into his story. At 16, his mother was a tea-girl who would bring his father, 22 and in accounts, an afternoon cup of tea and a Penguin. As far as his grandparents were concerned, however, Ian’s father was the devil incarnate. The relationship was forbidden, but a few months later, it became obvious that Ian’s mother was pregnant.
The story is told with gentle humour and some lovely anecdotes, like that Ian’s mother wanted to call him ‘Elvis’ right up until the day of his christening, when her parents made the decision to call him ‘Ian’ instead. Mclaughlin is fast-talking and charismatic. To assist with the storytelling, images are projected onstage and we see pictures of Mclaughlin’s family, his town and other pieces of his personal history. Film is also used to animate some of the scenes and ideas Mclaughlin explores.
This is an emotional and personal tale, but sometimes it feels like the script and direction is leading Mclaughlin away from expressing his full feelings about his life. Whilst the ending is touching, many of the supposedly shocking aspects of the story didn’t have the emotional impact one might expect.
Nevertheless, this is a polished and intriguing personal tale about one man’s search for his place in his family and in the world.