“He is my father… somehow,” says Ben Norris, cutting to the heart of a feeling many people have at some point in their lives. How can I be who I am when my parents are so different? In this heart-warming one-man show, Norris takes a physical journey through his father’s past in order to discover more about his father – and therefore, himself. Armed with a backpack full of signs and a teddy bear, Norris takes us on the journey with him, through video footage and photographs from the hitchhike, interwoven with the live performance.
The show is so compelling because Norris isn’t putting on a show.
Norris tells the story of his hitchhike with impressive ease, addressing us like old friends. He is enthusiastic in his delivery, which endears us to him immediately. There are some well-timed moments of audience interaction, which are funny and engaging and add to the feeling that we are all part of the journey.
Although the language is mostly conversational, it is clear Norris chooses his words carefully. He blurs the lines between chatter and poetry expertly, demonstrating a precise command of language – and, indeed, of his own emotions. The show is so compelling because Norris isn’t putting on a show. He doesn’t shy away from showing us his self-doubt; he is vulnerable and touchingly honest.
Yet despite his uncertainty, Norris has an unwavering optimism that is hard not to connect with. He sees beauty in the kindness he is shown on the road and shares this with us excitedly. Though the physical journey isn’t always successful, and the photographs of unremarkable towns around the M1 do become slightly tedious, the emotional journey it represents is satisfactory enough. This isn’t a fairytale with a perfectly tied-up ending. This is real life, with all the shitty bits left in. And that’s what makes it so watchable: it is relatable, sincere and true. This is an uplifting way to spend an hour for anyone who has ever doubted who they are (everyone).