Sean Hughes

Sean Hughes’ disarmingly honest and very funny one man show about the death of his father is a revelation, and an impressive return to form for the Irish comedian.

After the last time I saw Sean Hughes, the idea that he could create a sensitive, funny and heartfelt show seemed pretty remote – but that is exactly what he pulled off at the Norwich Playhouse.

His last visit to Norwich was for the Chapelfield comedy festival, where he gave a ramshackle performance dominated by unpleasant molestation of some female audience members and a full-on row with other gig goers. This time was very different.

Hughes has crafted a brilliant one man show about his relationship with his father, that blends bleak comedy with joyous interludes of what life can be. He succeeds in telling both a very personal story and charting the strange bonds that connect and constrict all our families.

There is some playful audience interaction, but the heart of the show is Hughes in stellar story-telling mode.

Whether it’s taking his mother back to the church where she married, pickpocketing his drunk father, or challenging doctors about his own illness, Hughes spins his yarn with finesse, weaving in immediate gags and longer burning jokes.

The show is delightfully staged on a simple set with well-chosen audio and video support and a delightful physical dénouement that guarantees that – despite the potentially morose content – you can’t help but leave with a smile.

Proof that with artful handling, comedy needs no taboos.