Seven Dials Playhouse – until 19th November 2022
Reviewed By Emily Cliff
Content warning: this review discusses themes of suicide
Lewis Cornay’s Daddy issues is a hard hitting play that touches on some extremely difficult themes surrounding the unexpected loss of loved ones, and the pain and trauma they leave behind. Rounded up into a 65 minute story, we watch as Imi formerly Imogen reinvents herself as she is trying to cope with the one year anniversary of her fathers suicide.
Upon entering the theatre the set is dressed in pink, with neon lights surrounding the set giving it a funky pop like glow. Fantastically designed by Andrew Exeter, the set reflects the chaos of the show to come, sprayed in pink. Imi is already on the stage putting up posters of what we soon learn to be her dead therapy dog, which gives us our first insight into the story to come.
Set in a granny annex on Halloween we first see Imi trying to enjoy and embrace the festivities of Halloween as she reinvents herself in the spirit of the holiday. Dressed in a skeleton costume ready to go out and enjoy the holiday. The story itself is structured around an instagram live, where Imi is holding a wake for her dead dog Roger. This soon morphed into discussions of Halloween and fond memories of the holiday but a noticeable elephant in the room that gets harder and harder to ignore as the night goes on.
Like many, Imi uses humour as a way of coping with her emotions, making this seemingly gloomy story one of dark humour which will leave your cheeks aching from laughter. Cornay has a great way of making you laugh with his writing but also leaving you with an underlying gut feeling of guilt; should we really be laughing at this person’s misery? Should I feel bad for laughing here? This style of writing has a fantastic way of putting you in the character’s shoes without even realising it, that subtle feeling of dread, guilt and sadness all bundled up into a ball of laughter and jokes.
While the jokes and the dark humour in this show was well written, Imy and many other women who have gone through something similar were incredibly let down by the portrayal of adult relationships in this piece. This was a flawed attempt at representing the sexual wants and needs that stem from past trauma, especially those inflicted by males in a woman’s life. It leaned into the stereotypes often portrayed across film and media making it feel like it was written in bad taste.
Despite its flaws this show dealt with harmful and incredibly difficult topics in a way that is witty and insightful. The eventual breakdown of Imi leads to her talking to her younger self giving her the hope to carry on. Bebe Cave’s performance was fantastic, radiating the desperate grasps of dealing with trauma on such a large scale. Supported by great character development and pacing this show is a fantastic devilish dark comedy.
If you are affected by the themes spoken about in this review please contact any of the charities below. No one has to suffer alone.