Good Timin’ is the story of Ian Mclaughlin’s search for his estranged father. It’s warm and tender, and an interesting reflection on what makes us who we are.
Mclaughlin’s tale begins at his birth in 1963, somewhere between the first Dr Who episode and the Kennedy assassination. He tells of how his parents split up before he was born, and how he was told that his father had died in a motorcycle accident. When he finds out that this was a lie, he buries the skeleton in a closet until the late ’90s, when he begins his search. Mclaughlin takes us through his life, building up a picture of his quirks, interests and personality, in a frank and sincere personal history.
A nature versus nurture current runs throughout the show. When Mclaughlin finds out that many of those quirks and interests were shared by his father, whom he never met, he finds his scepticism towards the nature side of the debate challenged. This preoccupation gives the show a bit more thematic unity than it might have had, although the ideas are a bit simplified, and could have been interrogated more.
Projection is used to good effect throughout, providing the audience with images of the important places and people of Mclaughlin’s life, and turning the production into a scrapbook of the second half of the twentieth century. Mclaughlin’s delivery is heartfelt and good-natured, fogeyish in a charming, amiable way. He riffs on Dr Who, which is a fun way of getting from one period to another, and his impressions of different family members are sympathetic and amusing.
The appearance of another son figure on stage at the end is misjudged, and throws off the more powerful sense of ending that Mclaughlin had created. This structural flaw, however, isn’t enough to spoil what is, above all, a really good story.
Good Timin’ is at Northern Stage at King’s Hall (Venue 73) until 23 August. For more information and tickets, visit https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/good-timin