When ADHD is a laughing matter

Aaron McIlroy in ADHD. He quips about his new show: “If not exactly autobiographical, I certainly have inside information!”

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STAGE: Aaron McIlroy with ADHD –
Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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THE acronym ADHD may not be much of a laughing matter for many – being, of course, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the rather complex neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect a child’s success at school, as well as his or relationships.

However, with direction by Patrick Kenny, and in the hands of one of Durban’s favourite performers, funnyman Aaron McIlroy – who draws from experience, as he has been diagnosed with ADHD – the theme is playfully juggled to make for another loopy and entertaining show. As McIlroy has said of his show: “If not exactly autobiographical, I certainly have inside information”.

Originally performed at last year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, then at the 2018 Hilton Art Festival at Hilton College, ADHD is co-written by McIlroy and Kenny. It runs for just over an hour and has McIlroy playing a range of characters.

Now on a bigger stage, unfolding against a backdrop of stacked cardboard boxes airbrushed with graffiti by Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson, the production is certainly sure to rake in the McIlroy fans.

I have to lay my cards on the table, however, and say that, while I enjoyed it, there were moments on opening night when ADHD seemed to hit brief dips, and seemed in need of more of the sort of full-throttle hyperactivity referred to by the loose-limbed McIlroy.

Aaron McIlory in ADHD, a show he co-wrote with his director, Patrick Kenny.

The show starts with Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall, increasing in volume before Aaron, in schoolboy shorts, arrives as Angus, a lad with ADHD, who has musical interests.

Aaron, with a blonde wig, then appears as Angus’s stressed music teacher, Miss Kook, who admits to having “special juice” hidden in the school for emergency situations.

We also get Aaron as Angus’s dad, then as a man who wears caps as both school rugby coach and counsellor.

Before the show’s end we also get an appearance by a white-coated scientist as well as (oddly) Shaka, who dances to We Are Growing and gets to explain how lobola came about.

In between all of this we get a variety of songs that includes a good version of Supertramp’s The Logical Song, performed by Aaron on acoustic guitar, as well as his amusing, lyrically doctored renditions of Village People’s YMCA, Eminem’s Without You, Rolf Harris’s Court of King Caractacus and that early-’90s hit by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince hit, Boom, Shake the Room.

Fans will be sure to lap it up.

ADHD is at this university theatre until March 10. Performances are at 7.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays and at 3pm on Sundays. Tickets cost R150 throughout. Booking is at Computicket outlets.

 


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