Review: Daughter by Pandemic Theatre

A powerfully unsettling exploration of pervasive misogyny from Canadian company Pandemic Theatre.

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 03 Aug 2018

“You know what I’m talking about, right?” asks Father (Adam Lazarus) in Daughter. He’s engaging, funny and chatty. He talks about the birth of his first child, poking fun at he and his wife’s naïve insistence on ‘hypno-birthing’. He smiles. “Hey,” his body language seems to say, “that gap between me and you, in your seats? It’s really only a formality.” It’s an increasingly horrifying idea.

Pandemic Theatre’s solo show comes to CanadaHub in association with Summerhall, after debuting in Toronto in 2016. Created by Lazarus, Melissa D’Agostino, Jivesh Parasram and its director, Ann-Marie Kerr, the play also arrives within the context of #MeToo, as it unsettlingly asks: is it possible to be male and not complicit?

As society begins to grapple with how men abuse women, do we need yet another man talking about it on stage? It’s a fair question. Where Daughter justifies itself, where it’s at its most chilling, is the success of the writing (and Lazarus’s performance) in crafting an everyman. Father still thinks he’s one of us. Perhaps he is.        

The cracks are there from the start, with Father’s over-sexualised dancing to his daughter’s pop playlist. They’re there in the teenage cruelty he recalls, still cracking jokes, or when he talks about extreme porn, still smiling. The play digs up a deep-rooted misogyny. An act of shocking violence feels sickeningly inevitable.

This show chillingly unwinds the convenient notion of singular ‘monsters’. It’s a shame when the ominous music kicks in and the lighting darkens. The writing doesn’t need underscoring.