Arts > Hanging out the family washing

06 October 2016 | by Mark Lawson

Hanging out the family washing


The relentlessly autobiographical author Philip Roth proposed the view that “when a writer comes into a family, the family dies”. The murder, Roth meant, came from the writer’s need to see memories and secrets as material.

Roth, though, would get a shorter sentence from the court of autobiographical intrusion  than the writer-comedian (and declared admirer of the Jewish-American novelist) David Baddiel, who, in an unsettlingly funny and completely original solo show, tests the idea and ethics of family memoir to their limits.

The back wall of the stage is filled with family photographs, including recognisable images of the young Baddiel, but with two empty frames, into which, as the lights go down, are projected images of the performer’s parents: his mother, Sarah, who died suddenly in late December 2014, and his father, Colin, who is alive but so deep in Pick’s disease, a neuro­degenerative condition, that he needs 24-hour care and does not understand that he is the subject of a theatre production.


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