Three generations of males in his family have died young, before ever meeting their grandchildren - so Daniel Benoliel’s anxiety on learning he’s to be a dad is understandable. How to buck the trend? How to be a good father? These are the concerns behind this short standup-theatre show.
It’s a draft shy of making real impact, but there’s an interesting story here, about plunging into the family past to seek confidence in the future. The trigger for Benoliel’s quest is the discovery that his great-granddad, one Solomon Franks, was murdered in a Manchester factory in 1919. As Benoliel researches the killing, his wife gets pregnant and his excavation of the case co-mingles with thoughts about maturity, inheritance and fatherhood.
That’s the idea - on which Benoliel only partly delivers. His worry about impending parenthood doesn’t entirely ring true: his feckless male persona is a bit glib, and the compulsive joke-telling (when he mentions the 1905 Alien Act, you just know he’s going to crack one about spacemen) undermines his story’s claim to emotional significance.
For now, Benoliel’s findings about his forebear’s murder (by a war-wounded Jewish immigrant called Hyman Perdovitch) aren’t especially instructive. His show implies a climactic discovery, then ends without any climax whatsoever. There are nice touches along the way, and Benoliel is a companionable host - but he’s not yet getting the best out of this dramatic family history.