Written by Robin Hooper and directed by Richard Spier, Broken Lad attempts to offer an “examination of masculinity in distress”. Set in a rundown dressing room above a pub, the play focuses on the plight of failing stand-up comic, Phil (played by Patrick Brennan) who is poised to perform a comeback show, and his dysfunctional relationship with his son, Josh (Dave Perry) who is ready to step on his father’s toes.

The ongoing ramblings of Phil portray his deep insecurities and felt inadequacies as he looks for reasons to quit the show, eventually walking out due to the poor size of the crowd. The best thing about the play is Brennan’s ability to demonstrate a clear crisis of confidence, and the distrust that plays out between a man and his son. That said, the characters barely develop, and the play remains fairly stagnant throughout.

A number of additional characters have been thrown in for good measure along with some fairly predictable, cliched storylines. Ultimately however, it’s difficult to buy into these characters in any meaningful way, or to feel engaged in the potential impacts of the portrayed tensions.

The dialogue between the characters perhaps intentionally shows the chauvinistic and sexist theme of a certain setting, but the play misses an opportunity to present “masculinity in distress” through more subtle means. Overall, a surface level script, with some glimmers of believable despair.