Theatre Review: Daddy Drag (Summerhall, Edinburgh Festival Fringe) ★★★

Resplendent in Dad drag, Leyla Josephine’s solo show gets off to a hilarious start. More stand up than play at first, Daddy opens with a rap that highlights both the strengths and foibles of the typical dad, luring the audience into the palm of her hand. It is only once we are fully drawn in that the cracks begin to show and reality seep in.

Exploring what it means to be a father through her drag persona, audience interaction and recorded interviews with family members, Josephine has created an engaging and entertaining piece. “Daddy” isn’t perfect, but he seems a likeable character: he takes a hapless spectator fishing, he tells bad jokes, he is terrible at dancing – every cliché in the book is exploited. As the interviews reveal more and more damning facts, however, the affable mask beings to slip, and a darker side starts to show.

Leyla Josephine

Josephine gives a sterling performance, as does the BSL interpreter on this night, who is so seamlessly interwoven into the production that it is hard to believe every show is not signed. Jennie Lööf’s set design is absolutely sensational, with multi-use built in to every surface and surprising at every turn. The only pity is that the de-dragging and tidying of the set take far too long. It is rare to have the confidence to be silent on stage for this length of time, however the piece loses momentum and the final realisation therefore loses some of its weight. Despite this, Daddy Drag is an entertaining and thoughtful play, with a lot of pathos under the ebullient exterior.

By Deborah Klayman

Daddy Drag plays at Summerhall, Edinburgh until 25th August.

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