REVIEW: Good Timin' @ Live Theatre – Brilliantly told, brutally honest
At the delicate age of just 14, Ian Mclaughlin learned that he’d been lied to all his life. Led to believe his father had died in a motorbiking accident, a fabricated idea of what he could be missing was all he had. But his father hadn’t been involved in an accident. In fact, he’d never even owned a bike.
Good Timin’, the mostly-one-man show, is an autobiographical telling of the delayed search for his father and the lessons he learned along the way. Brought up in Washington by his grandparents, Mclaughlin managed to suppress his curiosity until his grandmother spoke her last words more than 30 years later. “You’re just like him,” she’d said.
Best known for his work with comedy improvisation group The Suggestibles, the actor covers heavy subjects like death and estrangement with a charming wit. He always seemed to have a line on hand to take the edge off and eradicate any chance of an uncomfortable silence.
Honest to a comical and, at times, devastating degree, the story took us through the internal nature/nurture debate that tormented Mclaughlin following his discovery. If he’d never met his father, how “like him” could he possibly be? Fairly, he found.
The set, built to resemble a storage room of sorts, was littered with souvenirs from his past; there were Dalek figurines and a talkative stuffed giraffe among others. Having been born on the day that Doctor Who was first broadcast, the actor made the apt decision to use a miniature TARDIS to travel through his past. With the performance covering a great range of themes and memories, this was a welcome means of keeping the story relatively easy to follow.
A particularly interesting aspect of the performance was the projection of additional characters onto several screens built into the set. Old photos, quite obviously from Mclaughlin’s personal collection, allowed faces to be put to names. At one point, the comedian even managed to hold a conversation with a video of a boy who was seemingly playing a younger version of himself.
As the performance came to an end, the actor asked the audience to make him a promise. He learned the dangers of wasting time the hard way and didn’t want others to suffer in the same way. “Pick up the phone,” he said. Forgive and move on as he wishes he had. And, following the emotional performance he’d given, his words carried a weight that made them almost impossible to dismiss.