dB Magazine – Jon Bennett: My Dad’s Deaths Review – Adelaide Fringe 2013
Yes, you read the show’s title right, ‘My Dad’s Deaths’, as in plural. And if life growing up for former South Australian country kid and now recognised worldwide collector of phallic-like images, Jon Bennett, wasn’t hard enough under a no-nonsense, yet extremely accident prone father and the town bully for a brother, then think again. It seems every time his father, Ray (“because that’s his name”) went anywhere near a ladder he’d fall off and literally die, or so Bennett would have us believe.
But that was only five out of countless other ways that Ray has ‘literally’ left this mortal coil. Despite Ray’s standing in the local community as the town’s school teacher, school bus driver, church minister as well as the football and tennis coach, nothing can save him from the ill fate of ladders, tractors, self started bushfires, heart attacks on trains and even his own son, Jon, who during a reluctant pig hunting trip, managed to shoot him. Time after time Ray has found himself laid up in a critical condition someplace only to barely scrape through and survive; once again, literally. Bennett’s recollection of such incidents is, without doubt, amongst the best, absolute funniest storytelling I’ve ever heard. Further propping up his relationship status with his father by adding how many times he has disappointed him by making less than conventional life and career choices, reciting the occasional Banjo Patterson piece of poetry along with snippets of angsty teen Facebook rants, and even taking us back to the local primary school talent show (hosted by Ray, who else?), where he demonstrates how not to break dance to Jove Bunny, Bennett never fails to capture his audience’s attention.
I literally had tears streaming out of my eyes, and not just because of the outright hilarity of his stories, but also die to the true sentiment and adoration, and sometimes concern Bennett shows towards his dad. Every Fringe Festival there’s at least one show I go to see more than once, and this year I think I’ve found it.