Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Dean Parkin is an engaging story teller as he relates his semi-autobiographical tale. Only semi-autobiographical because, as he himself points out, he comes from a ‘Kingdom of lies’ – his own father was a consummate weaver of porkies, and he acknowledges that he’s picked up a few tricks on the way.
This is a play of nostalgia and memory – and occasionally, false, romanticised remembrances. Parkin wryly breaks the fourth wall more than once – perhaps slightly too often, in fact – but that does lead to some cute gags, not least admitting that are recurring recorded voice-over is mainly there in order to give him a chance to rest his voice.
The writing is that of a poet, and it feels as if the piece would benefit from a good few more forays into that realm – there are a few poems throughout the hour, but frankly so few of them that they always feel somewhat startling, and a odd twist of genre – if there were more poems laced in with the genial story-craft, we would have a significantly more balanced piece.
More than anything, more than the tale about the ducks, and even more than the story of a relationship between a son and his (often absent) father, this is storytelling about storytelling: the very piece itself has a lamp hung on it as Dean refers to himself, telling the story that he’s telling, and also to the fact that he picked up his love of stories from his father, who would have a good few to tell to explain his whereabouts at any one time. Obviously, not all these stories would have the ring of truth about them.
Indeed, we’re told so often that Dean is a consummate and skilled liar, that we come out of the space quite unsure if we can believe anything whatsoever that we’ve been told. But this show is as cute, cheerful and fun as a big, plastic yellow duck.