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Review: Spunk Daddy at MC Showroom

Review by Thomas Gregory


The worst thing about Spunk Daddy is that Darby James had too little confidence and marketed it as “a staged development reading”. In reality, the show is a brilliant piece of cabaret, offered with love, and a better production than anything else I’ve seen this year.


The presentation of Spunk Daddy is simple and elegant; a ship’s large steering wheel, a few overturned chairs, and Darby himself dressed in a cartoonish take on “a sailor’s uniform”. It is a striking image to look at and captures the humour we are to expect. After all, this is a show about semen.


Over the course of the show, James tells us the story of how he decided to donate sperm, the process and donation, and how it has left him feeling. It is a touching tale, as heartfelt as it is funny, and it isn’t afraid to explore some very serious topics. From his perspective as a cis-homosexual, Darby talks openly about what he feels about the ethics of childbirth, the pressures to have his own children, and the personal desire to leave behind some kind of legacy.


There is a lot of laughter to be found during this night. There are moments of real-life humour to be found in “clinical masturbating”, or the somewhat flippant attitudes some homosexuals may have towards ejaculation. However, James is not afraid to plumb the absurd, with one of the more popular moments of the night exploring how he might support a hypothetical child confronting its bullies with homicidal behaviour. Somehow, he is even able to find the humour in the very real problems humanity currently faces; from the singular selfishness of wanting a child as a future caretaker to how overpopulation affects the environment, nothing is free from a joke or two.


The greatest strength of this production is that nothing is left unsaid. James describes wanting a child just to prove bigoted naysayers wrong about homosexual parents. He talks about passing on traits, both physical and mental, to children that didn’t ask to be alive. He even explores how difficult it is to accept the word “generous” and the fear that he donated simply so he could say that he was “doing good”.


I won’t pretend to know just how confronting this show might be for anyone struggling to conceive, but it is worth warning all potential audience members - this show goes for the heart. While there was more than a laugh a minute, twice, I found tears in my eyes. I will be forever grateful that the show ends on a note of hope because, at times, it was downright devastating.


Why, oh why, would you advertise this as “in development”? So far, I’ve only raved about the brilliant writing of this piece, but there is so much more. The comedy is found in every aspect of this play, from Sidney Younger’s lighting design to the physical comedy James developed with dramaturg Casey Gould.

Lighting changes call back previous jokes, pants are zipped up in time to music, and sometimes it is but a glance that becomes the joke itself. I’m sorry, but I find it almost offensive that a show with such high production quality could be marketed this way.


I can only be consoled by the assumption that this show will return. While its short run ends on the 29th, I couldn’t imagine it not turning up at the Comedy Festival, Fringe, or next year’s Midsumma once more. I know that I will be keeping an eye out because I will definitely be seeing it again.

Image Supplied


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