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Gig reveiw.

timing, as every comic knows, is all important. But for Ian Mclaughlin, co-founder of local improv group The Suggestibles, at a crucial point in his life his timing let him down badly.

His one-man show, ironically titled Good Timin' and making its debut at Live Theatre in Newcastle, is a first for the performer and something of a departure from the stand-up he's known for (that and about 100 adverts apparently which he made while making his name as an actor in London).

It tells the intensely personal account of his reallife attempts to trace the father he ever met.

And if you think that's not really the stuff of comedy, you'd be wrong. McLaughlin's trademark humour drives his life story but it's in the poignant later stages of the hour-long show that the show works best.

In just over those 60 minutes, he has the audience accompany him on a whistle-stop journey from the moment of his birth - to a young single mum whose parents disapproved of her older boyfriend - to now.

With the aid of family snapshots and the occasional prop, including a mini Tardis that helps along his time-travelling saga, he brings alive characters in his life, including the grandparents who brought him up, against a scientific background of the nature versus nurture debate.

I confess it took some time to get on board with McLaughlin but when the story hit its stride, with the bombshell moment the young teenager learned the father he'd thought killed in a motorbike crash was actually still alive, we were all desperate to find out what happened.

As you might expect, the comic finds humour in the darkest of places - and the point when he makes a call to a name picked from a phone book only to later learn his mother confused his father's surname - is brilliant.

But the emotional punch packed by the journey's end pulls us up short.

Along the way McLaughlin raises some intriguing points in his nature/nurture argument as he discovers he inherited more than his dad's DNA, with a shared love of Doctor Who and theatre and taste in DVDs.

At the end he has a message for us about seizing the day and mending bridges before it's too late. And we listen because there's no denying he's earned the right to say it.

Good Timin' is heading to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 21, 2014
Words:398
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