Phineas Wakenshaw is a consummately confident performer, effortlessly charming packed out audiences with a sweet smile and immense stage presence. Even more impressive, this is his very first Fringe appearance. And if that’s not enough to make you bitter and jealous, it’s worth pointing out that this artist is only just thirteen months old.
Don’t walk, but toddle, crawl – and yes, run – to this show.
Trygve Wakenshaw (Phineas’ dad, who made such a splash on the Fringe a few years back with Squidboy) has devised a mesmerising piece of clowning and smart idiocy in which he interacts with his very small son in a series of hilarious vignettes. After opening with a genuinely startling sight gag, Phineas and Trygve play together, spooling out gag after gag, all of which are delightful and inspiring.
Wakenshaw Senior creates some fascinating worlds with just a few whips of those impressively long limbs, occasionally running towards a new twist on an old pun (which makes the audience feel cheerfully clever). The phrase ‘from the ridiculous to the sublime’ gets hideously overused, but it’s very appropriate here.
Sure, a lot of the show’s charm depends on the simple reality of having a cute toddler being funny (and make no mistake, Phineas already knows how to work an audience), but this is not an hour that is gimmick alone: Trygve is doing a lot of work to shift his performance to the whims of his son. Indeed, a couple of the jokes are softly reliant on the assumption that Phineas’s attention span is going to be practically zero. It’s also worth pointing out, should you be worried, that young Phineas is clearly very happy and comfortable.
The piece gets even more impressive when you begin to unpack the logistics of it: if Trygve’s son is just over a year old now, that logistically means that the details for the brochure will presumably have been finalised when he was merely around six months: long before there was any firm guarantee that this would work. And it does work, on several levels: there’s a lot of joy, if not flat out broodiness, in the room. If the Wakenshaw family doesn’t have a directory of potential babysitters for the next ten years by the end of the Fringe, we’d be very surprised.
It's rare that we can state that a show is genuinely unrepeatable. But there’s no way that you’re going to get to see Trygve Vs A Baby this time next year. Don’t walk, but toddle, crawl – and yes, run – to this show.