Ben Norris presents the age-old worry that we all going to end up like our parents in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Family. From Philip Larkin's infamous, 'they fuck you up, your mum and dad', to the incessant article production by lifestyle magazines, we are pervaded by the notion that becoming our parents is inevitable.
The UK Slam Poetry Champion synthesis One-man Show, Stand up Comedy, and Spoken Word poem, to convey the intimacy issues that are often "ubiquitous" in father-son relationships. Since, as Ben notes, his Dad taught him the word "ubiquitous", his whole person is inextricable from paternal influence.
Ben's physical journey is an attempt to recover something authentic about an enigmatic man. Hitchhiking down the M1 from North to South, starting in Nottingham and finishing in Brixton, Ben stops off at landmarks in his father's life. However, the marks left by his father are fading with the inevitable passing of time. By shedding light on father-son relationship shrouded in mystery, the production reveals the distance between children and their parents.
The mutual conversational territory between father and son is limited to sports during car journeys. The cliche of football as an immediate go-to conversation point between men pervades the production. Ben uses this dialogue to call into question the contemporary idea of 'masculinity'. Since Ben 'talks about stuff' and his Dad doesn't, the production creates a space for male relationships in a modern age. Highlighting the gradual change in social attitudes, which have shifted between his generation and his fathers.
By the end of the show, Ben acknowledges the ease of making his play. He can convey his feelings in a way that suits him. Through Comedy, through Spoken Word, through Meta-theatricality. The desire to emotionally reach out, the difficulty of articulating feelings, culminates in the play' as a finished piece. This is much easier than talking to his father.
The production shows how Comedy can be used to mask something more serious. Hilarious moments are partnered with life-affirming ones. For Ben, he can channel his feelings into an artistic medium, ensuring laughter is shared amongst the crowd. Revealing that, although we are likely to be similar people to our parents, we can choose to brake away. We can form our own outlets, independent from them.
Elena Angelides, Theatre Editor
Ben is currently touring the UK: