Fram & Dunt
Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster University
Fram hangs centre stage, by her hair, counter-balanced by a canister of water. Dunt wanders on stage, from the theatre bar, having steadied himself with a bottle of water.
She’s a professional circus artiste, he’s a former IT consultant... who also happens to be her dad.
The role reversal of their show is that he’s the one who has run away to join the circus, finally satisfying his own yearnings for a stage career and stardom.
Between them, whether by chance or design, they deliver a gently-persuasive testament to the strength and balance that comes from the best of circus shows—and parent-child relationships.
It could all be super-slick, or might even attempt to be profound, but it wilfully chooses to be neither, and like the family life it portrays seems random and opaque.
She performs her hair-hanging routine, or plays accordion, in between recounting various e-mails between father and daughter down the years. He’s on guitar and keyboards, or breaks off to relate anecdotes about attempting to emigrate to Australia, auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent, or missing out on experiencing zero gravity over the Nevada desert.
The latter leads him into a silver spacesuit, harness, and the chance to—quite literally—hang out with his daughter, to the spaced-out strains of "Also Sprach Zarathustra". It’s all casual, unconstrained, tenderly funny and ultimately quite affecting.
The whole production is book-ended by Frankie Goes to Hollywood warbling the appropriately-chosen "Relax". Projected video clips from their respective childhoods play out in the background; the show is BSL interpreted, by Charmaine Wombwell; and there’s a whoopee cushion on every theatre seat.
Honestly, what more could you ask for, either from a live performance—or life as it should be lived for that matter?
Reviewer: David Upton