Archive for category Martin Walker
Martin’s favourite shows of the Edinburgh Fringe 2012 were:
Stewart Lee – Carpet Remnant World (review)
The best stand-up working in the UK today delivering his best ever set. This 75 minutes of Stewart Lee made me very, very happy.
Susan Calman: This Lady’s Not for Turning Either (review)
I’ve been a huge fan of Susan Calman for years – her shows just get funnier and funnier. Mind you, this was the only comedy show in 2012 that actually made me cry.
Made for Each Other – Free (review)
If you’d told me that the strongest, most powerful piece of theatre I’d see this fringe would be as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival in the corner of a pub, I would not have believed you.
Those that proclaim that good poems ought to be spoken aloud are only half right. In fact good poetry should be performed. And few do this as well as Luke Wright.
Wright clearly understands that popular culture is at its best when it’s accessible and intelligent. It’s a fine line between dumbing down on the one hand, and seeming elitist on the other. Wright walks the line well, making it look easy.
This evening we are treated to an hour of self penned prose that covers, amongst other topics, Raoul Moat, feminism, The Leveson Inquiry, celebrity and being a ‘Weekday Dad.’ There is much to enjoy here on a superficial comedic level. (Wright’s brand of cheeky stand-up comedy could be strong enough to carry a show in itself). Wright flirts with various poetic styles and forms, using each to his own ends. And he rewards the avid listener with some real insights that will delight even the most liberal, Guardian reading audience member.
Wright could be the love-child of Johnny Clarke and Stewart Lee. Yes, he is that good. This near capacity audience hung on his every word.
Buy a ticket to this show immediately and then check out his website www.lukewright.co.uk
Ostensibly about the upcoming gay marriage of Vincent and Jerry, Made For Each Other actually explores much more universal themes of the family.
We have Vincent, who’s in his fifties and is yet to come out as gay. Vincent’s mum, a former minor star on Broadway who thinks she always knows best (now suffering from Alzheimer’s). There’s Jerry, Vincent’s husband-to-be, a younger wannabe actor who proposed to Vincent on their third date. And there’s my favourite, Jerry’s Grandpa Damiano, who encouraged the boy Jerry to grow up to be, well, whatever he wanted to be.
These characters are very well drawn and utterly real. You really do care about each and every one of them. All of them are played by John Fico, who acts his guts out in a performance that surely belongs in a proper theatre (where his work would no doubt have accumulated stacks of glowing reviews and several awards). Monica Bauer’s writing is equally strong. Not a line, not a word, is wasted in this multi-layered story of dignity, sickness and, above all, truth.
To explore the plot in any detail here would be to spoil things. Do go and see it, but you should get to the venue early. The evening I attended it was absolutely packed out.
I’m a big supporter of the various Free Fringes that are happening throughout this month. But if you’d told me that the strongest, most powerful piece of theatre I’d see this fringe would be as part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival in the corner of a pub, I would not have believed you.
The openly gay Ian Shaw is a wee bit of enigma. Why, I asked myself ahead of tonight’s show, was a professional jazz musician, producer and singer appearing on a Stand Comedy Club flyer pictured with an orange in his mouth? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great Steve Ullathorne pic but wtf? What I didn’t know, because I was yet to read his Q&A in the latest issue of ScotsGay magazine , is that as well as being one of the leading jazz all rounders in the country, Shaw has a growing reputation as a comedian. Camp musical comedy anyone?
To be honest, as soon as Shaw appeared on stage, launching in to his series of ‘naughty songs’ he had me. His ability at the piano is instantly apparent and he exudes confidence. This has the effect of relaxing you into the show. You know you’re in safe hands.
The material is frequently a little crude, often nostalgic but almost always funny. Perhaps the occasional quip is a little cringe worthy, but that is more than made up for once the music kicks back in. What’s not to like about a good comic parody?
Posted by Martin in 4 stars, Kev Orkian in Concert: The World's Favourite Foreigner, Martin Walker, theSpace on August 14, 2012
Before Kev Orkian begins tonight’s show, we are treated to a video montage featuring the man himself meeting Prince Philip, Simon Cowell, and other royalty. We also see him greeting members of the armed forces, having performed for the British Forces Foundation charity (I later learn that Orkian regularly tours army and navy bases with his friend Jim Davidson). Commencing a live show with a burst of visual name-dropping was certainly different, thankfully, it doesn’t last too long and the show itself starts.
Fans of Britain’s Got Talent will be familiar with Orkain’s act. This family friendly routine has much to commend it, as he dashes through pretty much every musical genre you can image, often bashing away at his piano at such speed you can barely see his hands. He’s an accomplished musician and a fabulous singer, with a good line in self-deprecating stand-up (sit-down) comedy, all delivered with an over-the-top Armenian accent.
There is something wonderfully old fashioned and innocent about this sort of family entertainment. Very few acts can claim to genuinely appeal to every age group, and to do so takes an enormous amount of real talent. I admit that I would never have come to see this show in the first place if I hadn’t been asked to review it. But when Kev Orkian returns to town, I’ll be back for more.
Jo Caulfield is a bit of a household name these days. After three series of the rather marvelous It’s That Jo Caulfield Again on Radio 4, she conquered the TV stand-up holy trinity, of Have I Got News For You, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Road Show and Mock the Week. Experience shows. In essence Caulfield is extremely good at her job.
Fortunately, success hasn’t tempered her material, which is as snappy and as caustic as ever. The show contains a veritable pick-n-mix of everyday things that annoy her. It’s all intelligent good stuff, from porn, to adverts aimed at women, to that most ubiquitous group of people – men – Caulfield delivers verbal punch after punch.
She is of course massively popular with LGBT people and it was her routine around Prince Edward’s perceived sexuality that had me and my gay mates utterly in stitches. (The said routine was subject to many an inept retelling later in CC Blooms). There are a few really nice satirical asides too. Yes, some of the targets are familiar, easy even, but the delivery and the punch line are pure Quality.
Caulfield settles the argument, once and for all. Women are funny. Get over it.
Without a doubt, The Stand is the best comedy venue on the Fringe. It’s a small venue, but it’s a permanent, all year round comedy club run by people who know their stuff. The comedians are hand-picked and the audience is comedy literate. No better place then, for Lucy Porter to stage her comeback after being off on maternity leave.
I did wonder whether her new and exhausting life as a mother of two would sharpen her edges, but fans of Porter will be relieved to know that, in essence, her act hasn’t changed. Funny anecdotes and sharp one-liners delivered with her trademark friendly, cheeky, demeanour. Of course the subject matter is new for her. Good comedians – that write their own material – must necessarily draw jokes from their own experiences. So motherhood is essentially what this show is about.
Porter has The Stand audience eating out of her hand. Despite being used to the more edgy waxings of Caulfield or the more experimental work of Munnery or Kitson, she somehow got this lot rolling about, with jokes about babies, friendship and daytime TV.
This is a terrific performance from a rare talent, who, once her comeback is compete, will be popular with the masses and the comedy aficionadi alike.
Edinburgh is awash with funny Canadians this Fringe. Though Dana Alexander may well be – as she claims – the only black Canadian comedian around, it’s on the ultra competitive UK comedy circuit that she has cut her teeth.
Tonight her material is strong and her delivery is assured. And even when treading familiar comedy ground, she can frequently tease out a new angle or twist. Alexander has some very interesting – and funny – observations on the English and the Scots in particular (with the Scots of course, coming out on top). She also examines her Jamaican roots, including a lovely and relatively lengthy anecdote about an elderly relative.
Alexander is terrific with the audience too; her interaction is focused and positive. It’s a given that the role of some audience members at a comedy gig is to be the butt of the comedian’s jokes, but you’d have to be a real lightweight to feel any offence tonight. Indeed, she seems genuinely interested in what individual audience members have to say.
Ultimately, there is no real thread or common theme going through this show. It’s not required. What’s wrong with standing up and just being funny for an hour? Nothing at all if this show is anything to go by.
Tenderpits is a coming-out story like you have never seen before. A fast paced, multimedia performance, the show is a highly original piece of theatre. Beautifully surreal, moving, deadly serious, with moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, this is a difficult show to pigeon-hole, never mind review, but a very good one to watch.
Tenderpits is a collaboration between New York based writer and solo performer Anthony Johnston, and director Nathan Schwartz, who bring their work to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time.
The audience follow a novice wizard on his search for meaning in life. Gay, impulsive, and relentlessly positive, our hero travels on the back of a moose (of course) with a gun (the wizard, not the moose). His friendship with an illegal immigrant brings him face to face with injustice, in a journey with many twists and turns. Sadly there is no magic spell for tackling homophobia and racism, but our hero is hopeful to the last.
This is a powerful testimony to human courage. And quite possibly the most bonkers show on the Fringe.
Gay Cabaret is a popular genre, but Mister Meredith brings a real freshness to it. Bouncing onto the stage dressed garishly as a Christmas cracker, our star leads us through an hour of fine entertainment.
Most of the show is not about Christmas, but larger themes. An impressive range of original songs satirise our modern obsession with body image, right wing homophobic religion and rampant consumerism, with a joyful eulogy to gay sex. Mister Meredith has a real flair for song-writing, achieving comic mastery of music across many different genres.
My favourite part of the show? Impossible to choose. Could it be the tribute to SM in Science Fiction, with the priceless lyric ‘I’ve fallen in love with a Dalek’? Or the truly brilliant music ‘guide of how to write a pop ballad’.
And that’s just the music; terrific audience interaction, off the cuff conversation, quick wit and good all-round comedy make this show deserving of a very big audience.
This is a free show that is well worth paying for. I’ll be going back for more.
If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. Because everyone else will be in Fingers Piano Bar. In the only show of its kind this fringe, Dave the Bear proves he is not just a pretty face; his musical talent, charisma and humorous asides guarantee that this show will have something for everyone.
Gorgeous, hairy, with a very sexy back. What’s not to love?
An original twist on a typically feminine genre, Bearlesque has all the ingredients of a burlesque show; talent, music, pass the parcel (?) and a little bit of nudity. For all this, Dave’s real strength is in his singing voice. Delivering sizzling interpretations of R&B standards, and some original songs of his own, this was a truly captivating performance. Dave’s partner Mister Meredith, who also has his own fringe show, provides able accompaniment and is a talent in his own right.
You do not need to appreciate bears, or even burlesque to enjoy this show. Get yourself down there. This is one of the highlights of the Fringe. If that hasn’t sold it to you, check out Dave’s website www.hairyprettythings.com
Jen Brister is an incredibly young looking 37 year old lesbian. And like most of us who get to that age, she’s starting to reflect back on her life. She claims to be unhappy, though an outsider might think that she’s got plenty to be upbeat about. A successful stand up career and a long term loving relationship should cheer her up a bit, surely? Apparently not.
Of course we have no idea how close the real Jen Brister is to the exaggerated stand-up character before us. Tonight she is frequently the butt of her own jokes, even calling herself unpleasant names. In fact very occasionally it feels like Brister does too good a job of persuading the audience that she has low self esteem. Once or twice it seemed cruel to laugh.
There are some terrific stories here though. One, which many LGBT people will identify, involves trying to relate to straight friends whist pretending not to be gay. Another involves a night out at a club taking ‘E’. There is also some strong stuff around her relationships with her brothers. Brister’s trademark monologues with her Spanish mother are also present, correct and very funny.
Tonight’s show may not be the best vehicle for her, but it still hits a whole lot more than it misses. Brister has a terrific stage presence and oodles of energy. I’m convinced that one day she will be absolutely massive.
Some shows are impossible to pigeonhole. Listed in the Fringe programme as ‘theatre’, How (Not) To Make it in Britpop often feels more like a stand-up comedy set. Then again, there is a strong musical element too. Wilby is an accomplished singer/songwriter and several relatively serious, reflective songs provide many of the show’s highlights. But then there’s poetry as well… Practically the only genre not covered here is opera. There is a definite story running through the show however, which ensures all the elements hang together.
Back in the 90s, before taking up comedy, her band (also called Wilby) almost made a name for itself as a BritPop outfit. During the show we’re taken on a journey from the formation of the band to its eventual split. Much of the comedy comes from tales of interpersonal relationships and rivalries between band members, mostly involving Wilby herself.
A highlight was when Wilby re-enacts a scene where she sang at an ex-girlfriend’s wedding. Temporarily putting two members of the audience centre stage – acting as bride and groom – seemed a little risky, but it paid off handsomely. I also enjoyed hearing her read a couple of her old fan letters. If that’s a representative sample of the fans are like, I’m glad not to be famous.
On a very short Edinburgh Fringe run, if the show has been and gone by the time you read this review you can always download the songs on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/rosie-wilby/id451462783. Well worth a listen.
Character comedian Milo McCabe became a firm Fringe favourite for many last year. The 2011 hit Get Brown was a spoof chat show, featuring several guest characters all expertly performed by this versatile star.
This year we are presented with a spoof episode of This Is Your Life, with fictional 70s comic Kenny Moon receiving the red book. Comedian Chris Henry acts the Michael Aspel role, with McCabe playing all the guests. These include the tattooed gypsy cousin Keith Moon and Bunny the washed-up variety act. My personal favourite, Troy – the fey (probably homosexual) acquaintance was hilarious, as was the gross cockney agent Steel and the final guest, Tyson Moon, Kenny’s confused son.
The character of Kenny Moon is played by McCabe’s actual father, in real life a popular old school comedy act, who appeared on TV shows like New Faces. Throughout the show, it’s difficult to see where the character of Kenny Moon ends and the real Mike McCabe begins. This is of course, absolutely the point. As the line between fiction and real life continues to smudge, we’re drawn further into the hilarious drama.
Mike McCabe is really very good in this. It’s a terrifically understated performance that works well opposite son Milo’s over the top flamboyant and brilliantly observed characters.
I expect to see the TV sitcom pilot very soon.
Sarah Archer presents a nostalgic look at the upbringing of, well, Sarah Archer. But it’s also about her insatiable cravings and by extension, ours too.
At its best this show is a sharp satire on consumer culture. There’s some intelligent, well researched stuff here, with some original and very funny gags. However, the script is patchy. The Commercial Break segment is quite weak, and the Mumsnet section really isn’t as funny as Archer seems to think it is. These gimmicks only serve to slow things down, sapping the energy from the room, rather than adding to the show. Fortunately, she has the ability and the material to bring the audience back from these occasional lulls.
This show is well worth a punt, but make sure you arrive early, as this is a small Free Fringe Venue and some of the seating faces away from the stage – not so good in a show which uses a PowerPoint presentation.
Constant Craving is brimming full of ideas, and Archer is a genuinely funny woman with a real talent for storytelling.
Ahead of the show Canadian Sharron Matthews, bless her, personally welcomes every single member of this large capacity audience into the theatre. We’ve been queuing up for ages outside the Pleasance Courtyard in the bright mid afternoon sunshine. And cabaret, acknowledged Matthews as we walk in the door, is best enjoyed at night.
Once the show is under way Matthews quickly sets the mood. She’s simultaneously wonderfully charming with her audience, whilst being utterly bitter towards the protagonists in each story. This fascinating character is certainly larger-than-life, but her performance is more nuanced and more real than most found on the crowded cabaret circuit.
Her voice is superior too and the choice of music certainly shows her range. Performing classic songs and adding a unique twist, or occasionally throwing out the original tune and rebuilding a song from scratch – there are many stand-out moments. Personal favourites included beautiful new arrangements of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ and ‘Love Stoned’. And I adored what she did with the hitherto innocent sound of ‘Hotel California’.
On a brief negative note, I do understand the concept of leaving the audience wanting more, but bluntly, this show is too short. One hour may be plenty of time for your average Fringe comedian, but a performance like this needs to breathe. Without even enough time for a genuine and much deserved encore, one feels a little short changed.
Returning after a successful Fringe run in 2011, you may already be familiar with The Sundaes act. If not, think of a trio of large drag queens – who happen to be women.
There’s no lip-synching to pre-recorded vocals here though, these girls have great voices and it’s a pleasure to hear them sing live. Any self respecting homosexual will recognize all, if not most of the songs they perform – well known classics from the 60s onwards. The audience banter is strong too; all three girls clearly enjoy rare opportunities to improvise. And the costumes are rather marvellous. The sequinned mermaid dresses worn for their powerful opening number come complete with Ice Cream Sundae hair and protruding wafers.
During the show, the girls bicker between themselves, as each tries to steal the limelight from the other two. However, it’s clear that in reality they are enjoying themselves immensely, as are the audience. There is much cheering and spontaneous applause.
The Sundaes gimmick is that they are all ‘larger than life’ and perhaps we do hear a couple too many obvious fat jokes. The fact is that this trio is made up of genuinely talented entertainers. If you’d like a superior piece of camp nonsense on the Fringe this year then look no further.
When Edward Reid, a 35-year-old drama teacher from Coatbridge, took the stage for Britain’s Got Talent he described his humble dream of singing for an audience. There was then a hush of anticipation as the pianist struck the first few chords… but I’ll come back to that.
We kick off tonight with a powerful rendition of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. It takes some balls to perform any Freddie Mercury number, as comparisons are instantly made. But Reid does well and it serves to get the audience in the mood.
What follows is a light-hearted, feel good show, which occasionally gets a little close and personal. He talks briefly about his fathers alcoholism. He talks more about coming out as gay to his parents. It’s a beautiful tale, one that would raise a smile on the most synical face. Reid is a charmer, impossible not to like, but with the tallent to back up the friendly persona.
All too soon we get to the finale. Back to that spot on Britain’s Got Talent. Then, as now, he delivers a dramatic medley of nursery rhymes, kicking off with “Old MacDonald,” then, “Twinkle Little Star”, “Humpty Dumpty”, “If you’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands” and the Scottish classic – all together now – “Ally, bally, ally bally bee, Sittin’ on yer mammy’s knee, Greetin’ for anither bawbee, Tae buy mair Coulter’s candy”.
And if you’re not quick enough to catch this show on its all too short a run, look out for his Scottish tour in the autumn.
For those living outside our Solar System who may not yet have heard of Susan Calman – she’s a talented Glaswegian, gay stand-up comic, actor, and writer. She can frequently be found riffing with Sandi Toksvig and Jeremy Hardy on Radio 4’s News Quiz and has appeared on countless other TV and radio shows, most notably Have I Got News For You. Alongside Josie Long, Mitch Benn and Hardy, she is one of the best satirists working in the UK today. (Calman, Long, Benn and Hardy – now there’s a decent line up for a Live Channel 4 satirical comedy show).
You may have read in Calman’s interview in the last issue of ScotsGay, that she is now happily ‘civil -partnered’. But this, of course, is not the same as getting married. And getting married is what Calman really, really wants to do.
And why shouldn’t she? Well there are nine reasons why no one should ever marry Calman, indeed during the show she produces a list. She portrays herself has some sort of OCD mad-cat-lady, with a more than unhealthy obsession with DCI Jane Tennison from ITV drama Prime Suspect. The more self deprecating she is, the funnier and more likable she becomes. This packed, sell-out crowd laughed for the entire marvelous hour. Her argument with her partner about her wish to be president of the United States had me keeled over.
And yes, despite her many foibles and eccentricities, someone still wants to marry her. But the law says she can’t – a blatant piece of state discrimination.The final moments of the show are an incredibly powerful call for change that won’t fail to touch the steeliest heart. Moreover, she’ll have you wanting to make a difference. Brilliant.
This show is ostensibly about Mitch Benn’s rather dramatic weight loss.
He looks great.* Benn states that in the myriad of addictions, food is the least sexy. It’s also impossible to give it up completely, he adds – not if one wants to stay alive more than a fortnight. Benn goes on to explain how society views those that are fat, why he chose to lose the weight, and whose fault it was that he gained so much weight in the first place.
This is insightful, honest stuff, from one who’s much more used to poking fun at the strengths and weaknesses of others. And it’s also very funny, but don’t worry, there is plenty of trademark musical satire here too.
He’s a strong writer, capable of taking obvious satirical topics (like the banking system or gay marriage) and finding something new to say. He also knows how to deliver a very catchy tune, the one featuring the ‘bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, (etc) druids’ will stay stuck in your head till the end of the Fringe (and beyond).
Utterly impressive is the Quantum Mechanics Rap, which is performed, rather charmingly, with a Professor Brian Cox accent. And his use of the iPhone’s Everyday Looper App to create music as we watch is, well, very cool.
My favourite Mitch Benn track, ‘Happy Birthday War’ is unsurprisingly missing from tonight’s show (not least because the War in question is allegedly over). But with over a million YouTube hits, his single ‘I’m Proud of The BBC’ makes a fitting finale for an entirely satisfying hour.
*Benn is now forever lost to those who enjoy the company of Bears (of The New Town Bar variety).
Self titled Yodelmeister Otto Kuhnle delivers an utterly baffling hour of German cabaret and music to a bemused audience in a tent.
Beyond that, it’s difficult to know what to say. Kuhnle juggles – badly. Does magic tricks – incompetently. Teaches the audience to yodel – not very well. He did have some good jokes on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the part played by David Hasselhoff. And I admit to enjoying the dancing garden gnomes enormously, especially when one of them started playing the bagpipes.
And if a show ever needed the label, ‘disjointed’ it’s this one. But it’s intended to be. A third of the audience ran with it, a third ran away before the end, and the rest of us didn’t know what on earth to make of it. I was entertained, but I have no idea how.
Andrew Doyle’s second Edinburgh outing has a lot to live up to. His show last year was one of the funniest, smartest, provocative hours on the fringe. This year he’s raised his game. Whatever It Takes is, without a doubt, one of the very best shows at this year’s festival.
Based on a near-death experience which gave him the necessary drive to quit his day job and throw himself into stand-up comedy, this show takes us into some deeply personal territory. But where Doyle excels is his ability to tell his story without letting up on the gags. Virtually every line is laugh-out-loud funny, and when he does slow the pace for some of the more theatrical moments, the pay-offs are well worth it.
Doyle is an incredible writer. His set pieces about being attacked in Milton Keynes, or his convent school education, are exceptionally well-crafted, and yet his sheer confidence means that the overall impression is that these thoughts are occurring to him on the spot. Indeed, his off-the-cuff audience interaction is so accomplished that it’s sometimes difficult to work out which elements are scripted.
Whatever It Takes is a masterclass in the art of stand-up comedy and I can’t recommend it highly enough. An explosive, thrilling experience.
This is one of those rare performances where the gag is given away in the first minute, but continues to be enjoyable for the whole hour. Leo, and a life size projected Leo, are seen to perform haunting physical theatre side by side, in a breathtakingly original work. The cleverness of the illusion is in its simplicity. I was absorbed.
Throughout the performance you are presented with a choice of perspectives. To look left or right. To trust the camera or trust implausible apparent reality. Leo’s hat, his suitcase, his tie and indeed, Leo himself appear to defy gravity in a series of moves that quite literally have you looking at the world sideways. It’s like being transported into a Tim Burton movie, or if you prefer Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s mesmerising.
When I first learned that a Flash Mob was going to happen in the centre of Edinburgh as part of the Fringe, I thought I’d be reviewing some Twitter savvy Scottish people at Waverley station – suddenly bursting into dance in protest over the price of milk. Er, no.
This Flash Mob is at The Assembly Hall. The show presents a variety of acts from across the genres that many will recognize from television dance shows.
Any thoughts that we may be in for sustained commercialised tedium were dispelled from the opening performance. The gorgeous Tommy Franzén produced a spot lit solo that had dance purists, gays, mums dads and the kids (I know these groups are not mutually exclusive) cheering for joy.
We proceeded through an hour of hip-hop, street, Irish, Latin… you name it, they did it. And they did it well. But it wasn’t all fun and games; a beautiful and surprisingly dark contemporary piece performed by Alleviate (Nicolette Whitley and Renako McDonald) was just stunning. I urge you to check them out on YouTube if like me, you haven’t seen the Sky show on which they competed.
Of-course the finale brought all the dancers out together for a ‘jam’ (I think that’s the word) and a shambolic, but very funny dance lesson for the audience which had us out of our chairs, shaking like a mutha and trampling over strangers.
I loved it.
Who’s Your Daddy is based on the true story of Johnny O’Callaghan’s struggle to adopt a Ugandan orphan. And adopting an African child is not an easy thing to do if you’re a single, white, openly gay, Westerner.
Performed by O’Callaghan himself, this autobiographical one man show follows the actor’s journey from the decadent gay life of Hollywood, to Africa, where he was recruited to help with a documentary set in a Ugandan orphanage.
Struck by the level of child neglect, described here in stark, brutal fashion,O’Callaghan wrestles with the feelings of impotence that all right minded people suffer when presented with extreme poverty. Keen to make some kind of difference, he befriends a toddler called Benson. A Tutsi, Benson’s family had fled the Rwandan genocide into Uganda, where he became an orphan. Benson soon takes to calling O’Callaghan ‘daddy’.
The bulk of the play is taken up with the relentless attempt by O’Callaghan to navigate corruption, bureaucracy and occasionally, very real danger, in order to adopt his new son. The performance is captivating. The depiction of sexuality is truthful.
This is a powerful, moving piece of proper theatre. However, Who’s Your Daddy is sadly being miss-sold as a comedy. It just isn’t. Nor does it mention in the listings that O’Callaghan’s sexuality is a strong theme. If Who’s Your Daddy fails to find its deserved audience during the Edinburgh Fringe, the faulty publicity machine is to blame.
I do urge you to go and see it.