Warhorse

Theatre Review: A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Family

16 October 16 words: Lucy Manning

Ben Norris' autobiographical play made its way home over the weekend

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Ben Norris is an artist. A graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The 2013 UK All-Star Poetry Slam Champion. A poet. A talker. A hugger.

Ray Norris, Ben’s dad, is not.

In a quest to find out more about his reserved pop, Mr Norris takes us on an extremely personal journey through service stations and pubs. When performers reveal intensely private information on stage, I’m often left feeling awkward – I’m a ‘Ray’, not a ‘Ben’ – but Norris’ warmth and openness was contagious, and I became a part of the family he was trying to learn more about.

It can be hard to find a balance between indulgence and informativity with autobiographical theatre, particularly in a one-man show. But Ben treads the space between with a graceful, poetic script that guides us gently through some of the most relatable family experiences,drawing us in to those specific to the Norris clan. 

The story is almost confessional in tone and follows a stream of consciousness that, with careful guidance from director Polly Tisdall, allows Ben to deviate from the script, directly addressing each specific audience. A clever use of hand-drawn projection adds a third dimension to the piece and punctuates the characters Ben met on his journey.

It’s only an hour long, but Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family will stir summat in you that’ll stick for a long time coming. We don't normally give out stars, but for this one we'll make an exception; it's a solid five from me.

Now go bell your parents, it’ll do you good. 

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Family was on at Nottingham Playhouse on Saturday 15 October, 2016.

Ben Norris website
 

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