Raw, unsettling and far too close for comfort, Daughter forces its audience to look darkness in the eye. Adam Lazarus centres as the unnamed father in this solo performance, produced by Quiptake and supported by Canada Hub.
Sporting fairy wings and a pink bandana, Lazarus opens as a loving, good-humoured and, at points, vulnerable father. He’s a guy who cried at his daughter’s birth and who dances to pop music with her as she grows older. This is hardly what I had been expecting from a play described as a ‘confrontation of toxic masculinity’, but that, it turns out, is the point.
Meeting the protagonist at the start, the audience would never expect the darker elements of the character which gradually unfurl. The trajectory of his monologue sways back and forth through the good and the bad of his personality. Being in the audience is like being a frog boiled in water: we forget to jump out. Instead, come the end, we suddenly find ourselves staring into the face of a danger which has always been there.
The production leaves the audience questioning when it all changed. When did he go from man to monster? But as you look back over the play – something it is impossible not to do – you realise there was no transformation; the monstrous was always there tied up in the human. Embedded in the carefully constructed self-depreciating anecdotes and sexist jokes was a misogyny and narcissism, which not only did we fail to reject, but which warmed us to him.
Quiptake aims to cut any distance between the audience and the issues presented; sexism, abuse and violence. Leaning through the invisible fourth wall to directly address the audience, Lazarus succeeds in this, supported by minimal setting and effects. The only element which detracts from this is the intense lighting and building soundtrack which raises a feverishness but also a Hollywood artifice in the final scene.
The character acknowledges that he’s here to open a conversation and this, the production undoubtedly achieves. The performance releases the catch on Pandora’s box, exposing the sexism and misogyny internalised throughout our own lives and those around us.
Reviewed by Jennifer Helen McGowan
Photo: John Lauener