Bristol Theatre News

Henry Normal at The Space Keynsham Bristol Review

Henry Normal at The Space Keynsham
A Normal Family: Everyday Adventures with our Autistic Son
Tickets £12

He might have a BAFTA, but Henry Normal’s appearance at The Space in Keynsham, wasn’t about glitz and glamour, it was a more personal journey about matters close to home.

Producer of Philomena, co-writer on the Mrs Merton Show and The Royle Family, Henry Normal could have spoken about show business, comedy, movie making or TV production. But, last night was a more intimate affair as he talked with love about his journey as an autism parent to his artist son Johnny Carroll-Pell.

Life with an autistic child is a unique experience for every single parent. Autism is a wide spectrum with its triad of impairments affecting each individual in different ways, much like the settings of a sound mixer.

Normal talked about his relationship with his wife, trying to break through his son’s communication difficulties and all interspersed with poetry he had written about autism family life from bittersweet moments to humour.

Johnny’s favourite thing at the zoo was a bin with a monkey head, we are told. If he had come to Bristol Zoo, it would have been the five foot penguin collection box – grim experience!

To put the evening in context, an exhibition of Johnny’s vibrant paintings preceded the talk, adorning the walls of the venue.

The striking paintings were a beautiful and fascinating insight into how Johnny feels and experiences the world around him.

Whilst Normal talked about his fears for his son’s future in practical ways, his son’s lack of independence, his worries about how Johnny will cope when he’s no longer around, as a father he has done something wonderful. He found  that elusive way of communicating when communicating seems impossible, to give his child an expressive way of dealing with the world, and in such an amazing way that everyone else can stand, look and appreciate the beauty his son gives to the world too.

Art by Johnny:

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