FRINGE 2018: Why you need to see... Darren Harriott
Who: Darren Harriott
Where: Pleasance Courtyard - Beneath
There’s a moment in Darren Harriott’s excellent show where I felt a wave of emotion wash over me. He’s talking about the fact that he’ll never hear his father’s voice again and that the memory of said voice has all but disappeared from whichever part of the brain retains those sorts of things. And that resonated hugely with me: my father was killed in a car accident almost 15 years ago and I too struggle to remember what he sounds like. Harriott’s father committed suicide and the basis for his show is his dad and the desperate need to please him.
Not as tightly structured as an Alex Edelman or a Brennan Reece, Harriott still delivers on all fronts: quality story-telling, numerous laugh out loud moments mixed with takes on race, modern society and then, very subtly, huge poignancy on what it’s like to be a father’s son. And don’t be fooled: his show doesn’t need the tighter constraints of Edelman or Reece, in part because it simply wouldn’t work. There’d be no ability to jump from 13-year-old Darren and his wannabe gangster friends getting matching hoodies, to that same gang carrying knives and the understanding that if shit went bad, they’d not have thought twice about stabbing someone.
There’s a beautiful maturity to this show. Harriett is whip smart: eminently comfortable moving from the cultural appropriation of Power Rangers to ‘Nigel’ and an evening in Norwich that takes a very unusual turn. Even when a pair of audience members get up to leave in the seconds before a punchline he’s able to turn that into a positive, subtly holding the crowd with a look and a facial expression as the door slowly shuts behind them. As he departs the stage and the crowd head for the exit, a couple in their sixties compare him to a young Richard Pryor. Praise indeed.
You come away thinking three things: firstly, that Harriett is really good at his craft. Secondly that people can change, in particular young boys trying to fit in. But mostly you leave believing that had Patrick Harriott been able to see Visceral, he’d be immensely proud of his son and what he’d become.
You can buy tickets for Visceral here.