Review: Dear Daddy Who Art in Heaven (The Old Hairdressers)
Updated: Oct 12
Comedy that reconciles the gay and the godly
If God made man in his own image, then perhaps his voice mimics each person he speaks to? For Trevor Telesz’s unnamed character, that means He is crass and camp in the extreme. Written and performed by Telesz, Dear Daddy Who Art in Heaven is a solo play about being gay, in your twenties, and trying to figure out how to have a relationship with God long after leaving the church behind. Bathing in the post-sex glow of his first time with a man Telesz's character, who grew up in the fundamentalist Christian church, finally hears from God. But what he hears isn’t quite what he expects.
The show explores the difficult relationship between religion and sexuality not on a societal or cultural level, but on an individual level. As such there is a risk of the performance becoming self-indulgent or a theological think-tank without a story, but Telesz never lets that happen. His character’s relationship with God is shaped and propelled by the story and character progression, and the big man has a habit of picking pretty inconvenient moments to show himself (for example when Telesz’s character is about to give his delicates a trim and God decides to make some indelicate comments).
More than anything the emphasis is placed on the father-son relationship, which is where both Telesz and Peake’s performances shine. Telesz is stroppy, and he has the right to be with someone who keeps disappearing just as he’s about to ask an important question. But his stroppiness comes from a place of need; a longing for love and assurance that he has been conditioned to believe he does not deserve. During the funny moments, Telesz is cartoonishly expressive, but at the same time he shows his character's vulnerability. Peake’s God, sassy and playful though he is, is also tender. He has the attitude of a parent who ultimately wants nothing more than for their child to figure out their problem on their own.
The version I saw of Dear Daddy Who Art in Heaven was a trim 45 minutes, but it is brimming with potential. For a show that deals with such a controversial issue, it never pretends to have all the answers but always approaches the topic and the people affected by it with real heart. It is a show about making peace with uncertainty, having joy in faith, and finding matches on Tinder. Four stars.
Dear Daddy Who Art in Heaven has completed its run at the Old Hairdressers and will play at Impact Arts in Glasgow on October the 6th