Who? Laurence Clark
What? An Irresponsible Father’s Guide to Parenting
Where? Assembly George Square Theatre: The Box (venue 8)
Are you prepared for what this year’s Edinburgh Fringe has in store for you?
I’m as prepared as I’ll ever be!
What is the premise of your Edinburgh show this year?
Growing up, I never really thought about becoming a father. I never saw any dads with cerebral palsy; which made me think I’d never be one. Besides, my younger self was way too selfish to take care of another human being. The most he’d ever managed was a cactus, and even that died from lack of water. He was far too in love with having a disposable income and going for a poo with no children watching.
But when I meet my wife-to-be, she states I’d better be prepared for the fact she wants babies… which is a pretty strong opening line for a first date! What follows is the hilarious, honest, warm story of two people with cerebral palsy traversing the ups and downs of parenthood.
What was the biggest obstacle you face(d) while putting this show together?
My kids are both natural performers and wanted to be part of the show, especially as it’s partly about them. But I struggled for a long while with how to meaningfully achieve this.
Then something quite odd happened. Several years ago when we were having our second son Jamie, my family and I were filmed for a BBC documentary about being parents who have cerebral palsy called We Won’t Drop the Baby – the title was not our idea! Recently it was put onto Youtube, which meant people all over the world could effectively look into our family home and type their considered, informed comments about us underneath.
I got told that having kids in my position is just irresponsible by someone calling themselves “pantyflash”. Talk about people in glass houses! Besides, if I was irresponsible then it’s got nothing to do with having cerebral palsy! In fact it’s probably more to do with things like balancing his wife’s crutches on his son’s baby walker to make him look like a Dalek! Someone else asked how could I even make the baby when I’m in a wheelchair and can’t hold anything properly? Of course, the simple answer to that is I did it the same way as everyone else, namely got drunk and forgot the condom! Someone called “Little Bunny Bunny” even said that I shouldn’t have been born or allowed to reproduce! Has there ever been a greater disparity between such a nasty opinion and such a cutesy name? So I filmed my kids reacting to some of these comments and saying what they thought of hem and this forms the basis of the show.
Who would most enjoy your show?
The obvious answer is people who are parents and disabled people, but actually I think everyone will enjoy it. I’ve even consciously watched my language this year and given it a 12 certificate as I hope some older kids will enjoy it.
What is your favourite thing about Edinburgh as a city?
I love Edinburgh! Over the course of my adult life I’ve probably spent at least a year up there if you added up all the Fringes I’ve done, plus a couple of years ago I was there in the winter rehearsing and performing a piece of physical dance theatre called Purposeless Movements by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company. This was a bit of a culture-shock, as Edinburgh mid-winter is not the same crowded, poster-filled city I was used to in the Fringe… and I thought it was cold in August! However my two favourite things about the city are both food-related, namely the Italian restaurant Amerone on St Andrew’s Square and the Handmade Burger Company at Leith.
Do you have any other Edinburgh show recommendations?
I’m looking forward to seeing ‘My Left/Right Foot – The Musical’ (Assembly Roxy, 18:10) by Birds of Paradise Theatre Company, about an amateur dramatics company staging an all-singing version of the film My Left Foot. Anyway we’re on at the same time so come and see my show first!
What are your plans for after the festival?
I will be frantically finishing writing my play Cured which has won an Unlimited R&D commission and is being produced by the Liverpool Royal Court theatre and will be directed by Edinburgh-based director Robert Softley Gale. The tagline goes…
‘For some people, a trip to Lourdes in France means prayer, contemplation and quiet self-reflection. But for one group of young, disabled Scousers, it means alcohol, debauchery, fornication and definitely no frigging miracle cures!’
I need to have the script ready for a rehearsed reading on the Liverpool Royal Court’s main stage during DaDaFest on 12th November, after which I hope it will develop into a full production.