“They fuck you up, your mum and dad”, Philip Larkin said in his famous poem, and even if it doesn’t apply to everyone to the same degree, it’s an assertion that stood the test of time. Richard Marsh explores that very truth, probably a little less angrily, definitely more humorously and – to keep with the poem theme – with a surprisingly amount of rhyming.
Marsh starts his monologue (and monologue it is, even though another character enters soon) as a lighter version of Nick Payne’s The Art of Dying, and admittedly this is a strange path to take but soon enough, the narration takes a different turn: the enforced reunion of father and son after twenty years takes the form of a road trip and the ghost (of Christmas past, present and future?) that you can’t shake. Father wants to stick around, son thinks he wants to move away. Then new babies and new relationships (in that order) come along and he doesn’t know what to think or what he wants.
The text is often very funny