Effortlessly magnetic and prone to improvisation, the fresh-faced comedian opposite Trygve Wakenshaw is something of a loose cannon. Nothing more than making an entrance sends the crowd into sighs and applause. Known only as Phineas, he’s as smugly worshipped as a one-year-old toddler, which, in this new mime comedy, he actually is.
By casting his infant son, Wakenshaw lays out a genius conceit for this delightful co-production with Don’t Be Lonely and Aurora Nova: can an accomplished performer command attention from an audience gushing over a baby and prevent himself from being outshone? Everything mightn’t go according to plan when there’s a player too young to learn a script.
But whether performer or parent, Trygve comes across as a hotshot. He morphs impressively throughout his surreal comedy’s absurd situations. As a diva mermaid, he finds Whitney’s I Will Always Love You no easier to sing underwater than above it. As a downtrodden version of Dracula, he moonlights as a stand-up comic but the pressure is on to be home before his son wakes. Could parts of this actually be the artist’s veiled biography?
It definitely makes for a riotous buddy comedy, one that might actually say a lot about fathers and sons. Trygve, no less than the audience, is dependent on his son to arrive and bring the routines to completion. Their performance together isn’t always straightforward but it’s a supported one nonetheless. And on this day Phineas comes through, whether jumping through a ringmaster’s hoop as a lion, or brandishing a sword as a knight.
If the latter sounds heroic, that’s because Trygve leans towards giving his son roles that seem valiant and epic. We see the baby step undaunted into the ring with Rocky Balboa and knock him out. He even assumes the role of Hamlet, skull in hand, and is put under a spotlight for Shakespeare’s iconic soliloquy. There’s something discreetly moving about such decisions: it could very well be dad’s way of telling son to dream big.
Trygve vs a Baby is on until 27 August 2017 at Assembly Roxy. Click here for more details.