Ray Bradshaw made waves at last year's Fringe for performing stand-up in sign language and English at the same time, a gesture inspired by his own upbringing with deaf parents as part of a family who learnt to sign before they could speak. Now, accompanied by the talented BSL interpreter Karen Forbes, he’s back with Deafinitely Baby for a limited time only - quite literally, as his wife is now 38 weeks pregnant and counting…
Heaps of fun and Bradshaw is sure to be a Fringe staple for years to come.
Bradshaw makes for a calming presence on stage, which bodes well for his oncoming role as a father. Armed with glinting eyes and a wide smile, he’s an instantly likeable figure who is just as at ease under the bright lights as he would be propping up the nursery gates and practising the infamous ‘dad joke’ (some of which we had an exclusive preview this evening).
Despite the title, this is not a show exclusively for budding parents-to-be; there are more than a few racy anecdotes which balance out the ante-natal lessons nicely, giving Forbes plenty of opportunity for some more salubrious signing which was a particularly entertaining highlight for those who’ve always wanted to learn how to swear without opening their mouths.
The Bradshaws’ journey from wedding day to due date provides a strong narrative for the show, from which Ray enjoys jumping around slightly as he warms to a topic but never to the detriment of losing his train of thought. Stories unfold comfortably without feeling over-rehearsed, and audience members on the front row can relax safe in the knowledge that they will not be in the spotlight unless they have chosen a particularly unusual name for their offspring.
Without stealing the show, Forbes does a fantastic job of keeping up with the ad-libs, interjections and audience participation that are a naturally fluctuating part of the set. The banter between them is a joyously cheeky thing to watch, and most likely a partnership that lots of the audience will not have experienced at a comedy gig before. Perhaps there were one too many references to being pleased with one joke or the other, betraying a self-awareness that most acts work hard to keep under wraps – but then again, this honesty is part of their charm.
Bradshaw is a natural storyteller and has been gifted with the sorts of adventures that will make his new son in turn both proud and deeply embarrassed of him one day. Deafinitley Baby is heaps of fun and Bradshaw is sure to be a Fringe staple for years to come.