Creating a show opposite an admittedly adorable 1-year-old seems a bit of a mixed blessing – on the one hand, all Phineas Wakenshaw has to do to send the crowd into a delighted frenzy is toddle onstage/googoogaga into his father’s microphone/delightedly prace around with whichever prop he is supplied with. On the other hand, the audience is so utterly smitten with the 13-month year old comic that his father’s solo pieces seem rather tame in comparison.
One of the glorious aspects of the performance is that, obviously, Phineas isn’t going to be staying up late at night learning the lines to the show. The 1-year-old is a loose cannon whenever he wanders onstage, providing the comedic piece with the vulnerability and on-the-spot improvisation which can be so lacking in a long-running show. The bond between father and son is obvious to see, and it is this which is so enrapturing. However, the show itself (when stripped of the intensely adorable gimmick) is nothing new in terms of comedy, and doesn’t quite measure up to the hilarity of Wakenshaw’s two pieces last Fringe. Wakenshaw Sr’s solo moments, all gangly legs and crafted facial expressions, are never given as much attention as normal and are certainly not as mould-breaking. They are perceived as what they are: fillers before the blond star of the show waddles onstage again.
This show has no hidden meaning and doesn’t pretend to have any sort of agenda. There is only one sketch which makes any kind of point – a hilarious comparison between treatment of ‘girl babies’ and ‘boy babies’. It is side-splitting, and manages to lift the performance and the piece up to a level which hadn’t been achieved before, bouncing off of the unusual subject matter to take a closer look at children and their parents. More sections along these lines would have produced a show which doesn’t stop at cute and engaged the head as well as the heart – however, this is me being rather pernickety. If you’re looking for an hour’s worth of playtime, look no further.