Joe Friedman’s autobiographical piece, Deaf Ears takes us on a journey from childhood to parenthood, from a reader to a writer and from simply hearing to really listening. It is a one-man show full of experience and humour, with some important messages and life lessons along the way.
Born to two Deaf parents, Joe soon learnt how to best time his crying as a child – it is after all important that your parent can see your tears if they can’t hear you! But not everything was that simple, and we see how a young Joe learnt to navigate parents’ evenings, asthma and suddenly finding himself the nominated hearing person needed to take phone calls.
Bringing to life a cast of characters, from gruff policemen to troubled patients Joe recounts his adventures and formative moments. It is engaging and well done, though it can sometimes feel as though these people have been reduced more to actors in his story than their full selves. But it is a life in an hour and perhaps it is good we are left to wonder, this piece certainly shows an interesting journey of self-discovery.
For the most part, the show has excellent pacing, the stories flow almost chronologically and the audience is engaged in the journey. Nearer the end, however, in particular when talking about how technology has advanced, feels forced in and a little jumbled. It is an interesting and important part but would fit better as part of the conclusion.
This is a heartfelt piece about what it means to really listen to and understand each other’s struggles, this show gives us the chance to walk in another’s life and see how it shaped him. From witty anecdotes to heartfelt recollections this show covers it all through Joe’s experience. His success, failures and why sometimes storming the Bastille on acid works.