Reviews Edinburgh Published 26 August 2015

My Son and Heir

Forest Fringe ⋄ 24th - 25th August 2015

The Little Prince.

Nicole Serratore

In this land of literal princes and princesses, Search Party’s new show, My Son and Heir, invokes the Royal Family, Disney fairy tales, and an array of other gender-based ways in which we construct identity and narrative for children and adults alike. In a sea of objects that are all bubblegum pink, Jodie Hawkes and Pete Phillips speculate on what kind of man their young son will grow up into. Despite the frequently funny moments and inventive use of objects and space, the piece never felt like it was pushing the conversation on the many topics raised forward.

My Son and Heir is a thoughtful approach to male identity, parenting sons, and the destructive views that fairy tales (“real” and imagined) offer children and adults. Jodie and Pete try to fit themselves into these storybook ideals. Jodie calls Pete her Prince Charming and lists off the ways in which he is perfect. Pete tries to fit Cinderella’s shoe on Jodie (and when it does not fit he starts speculating about the feet of other women in the audience).

Dressed as Prince William and Kate Middleton (who also haunt the scene as cardboard cut-outs on the edge of the performance space) nothing is the perfect fairy tale they are being sold by society. They will never be the Royal couple no matter how hard they try. However, they do engage in some very humorous sex in a castle.

Their son is, naturally, “not like any other child you’ve ever met.” They imagine what kind of person he will become. In the beginning of the show they conjure idealized notions of perfection and versions of their son they would be proud of. Maybe he will be a doctor or a surgeon. He will be outdoorsy but still he’d help people. He will have sense of humor, play the guitar, and be a natural born leader.

As the show goes on, they contemplate extremely disturbing and negative versions of his potential future. “He’s not going to be like other men,” says Pete at times with hope and sometimes as a talisman against these tragic imagined fates.

Although parental anxiety over their children’s future is a common refrain of modern life My Son and Heir feels like it is only scratching at the surface with all the iconography employed. Things like pink toys, princess dresses, Barbie dolls, the Royal Family, and cross-dressing all come with a tremendous amount of symbolic baggage. They linger with equal weight on each of them and oddly, sameness sets in. The artists largely place these images before us for our interpretation but in the end none felt wholly reframed by this work.

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Nicole Serratore

Nicole Serratore writes about theater for The Village Voice, The Stage, American Theatre magazine, TDF Stages, and Flavorpill. She was a co-host and co-producer of the Maxamoo theater podcast. She blogs at Mildly Bitter's Musings.

My Son and Heir Show Info


Written by Search Party (Jodie Hawkes and Pete Phillips)

Cast includes Search Party (Jodie Hawkes and Pete Phillips)

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