Review: Who’s Your Daddy? Assembly Hall (Venue 35)
When Irish actor Johnny O’Callaghan flies to Uganda, it’s for all the wrong reasons. He’s on the run from a relationship break-up, his film career is on the skids, and a friend in Los Angeles has a vague idea for a documentary about a struggling orphanage near the border with Rwanda. But mostly he just wants to die. The trip to Africa is “a suicide mission”.
* * * *
But in the appropriately named House of Hope – where there’s only enough money for one meal a day, and most of the children were born with HIV – a little boy called Benson climbs on to his lap. He feels an immediate bond with the child which intensifies as he spends more time there. He decides to try adopt Benson and take him back to the US.
This is no mean feat. Uganda is considered impossible by adoption agencies, even if you’re not a gay man and single. O’Callaghan’s one-man play, directed by Tom Ormeny, is a story of setbacks and backhanders, red tape and disappointments, and a growing determination on the part of one man to make a difference for one child.
It shows us a man who blunders into Africa, captivated by its sights, sounds and smells, failing to grasp its very real dangers. At times he is overcome by feelings of naïve, liberal beneficence, but has nothing in his arsenal to deal with a mother giving away her baby in the marketplace because she can’t afford to raise her.
O’Callaghan is a fine performer and, in this show, he rises to the complex challenge of playing a version of himself with sympathy and frankness. Do we really believe in the immediacy and strength of the bond he forges with a child he has never met before? Do we believe that the self-absorbed depressive who flew to Uganda wanting to die is suddenly ready to become a parent? Not completely.
There is some unevenness in the script, and the pregnancy metaphor is overused, but despite all that, we’re with him every step of the way.
Until tomorrow. Today 22:30pm.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
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