Written and performed by Jordan Waller, Son of Dyke is an unconventional coming-of-age autobiographical play. Waller recounts his uber-liberal and unusual upbringing – raised by a lesbian couple and told, when he was eleven, by one of his mothers that he was gay. After the sudden death of his other mother, Dawn, he is then plunged into an adult life of uncertainty and grief, and eventually decides to track down his sperm-donor father.
The staging is almost bare. Instead, all that is needed to engage the audience is some subtle lighting shifts, Kate Bush interludes, and Waller’s outstanding performance. He is bold and bursting with confidence, delivering every line with panache and enthusiasm. The humour incorporates puns, innuendo, pop culture references and explicitly sexual punchlines. It’s always bolshy and always funny and is effective in carrying us through the character’s textured and challenging journey.
Earlier scenes see young Waller dancing around the house to Kate Bush, standing up to school bullies with sass, and making a primary school encyclopaedia of each type of dyke he knows. As we move into adulthood, though, whilst the cocksure humour remains, the narrative shifts into tougher territory. Funeral speeches, sperm bank appointments, and meetings with long lost relatives keep us captivated and the play’s climax is suddenly incredibly heartfelt and heartbreaking. Waller’s performance has won us over so easily that it’s impossible not to feel for him when recalling his most devastating moments.
Son of Dyke is a successful two-hander, then. It works as a comedy – explicit, raucous and warm, while also serving as an exploration of much deeper topics. The play encourages us to look at death, loss, and the concept of family, and its star turn from Waller pulls all of this off perfectly.