No actual dads were harmed during the making of this darkly perceptive analysis of everything tough about boys becoming men, but our reputation took a few knocks, for sure.

How To Beat Up Your Dad by Caravan Guys Theatre Co

Let’s be clear, I definitely laughed out loud with the rest of the (mixed gender) audience at the ruthless humour of Theo Mason-Wood and Albert Haddenham’s two-hander.

But more than once I also found myself looking for clues that might give me reassurance about myself, or at least give me an explanation for anything untoward.

From a set-piece opening of absurd braggadocio, through a series of linked vignettes of unkindness (drawn from reality), building to a father-son face-off in which conflict gave way to comprehension, the piece examined the relationship between machismo and vulnerability.


The jokes were undoubtedly funny but if laughing was the obvious response it was not the only possible one.

The unforgettable ‘bitch in a box’ scene unfolded to expose how sexism and homophobia are often default settings. Mason-Wood’s nakedness during the first 15 minutes of the show revealed more than his own anxiety.

There will have been few men in the audience who would not have felt a hint of guilt about a laddish trick played on an unfortunate friend.

It’s fashionable to talk of ‘toxic’ masculinity, because putting a bit of sociological distance between observer and observed is both intellectually credible and emotionally comforting. But the Caravan Guys’ savagely brilliant satire was a more honest, if brutal exploration of a certain brand of maleness.