My Dad Boris -Fringe Futures Festival/Pleasance Theatre

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer: Charlotte Evans

The Pleasance Theatre in Islington is the latest venue making a return to live performance after an extended closure, and this is a particularly important location for new plays and comedy shows heading to and from the Edinburgh Fringe. Their Fringe Futures Festival is a collection of works-in-progress, short pieces in the formative stages looking to try out ideas in front of a live audience at last.

Charlotte Evans’ My Dad Boris is the first of these, a 30-minute stand-up that takes the Prime Minister’s alleged affairs as the starting point for a humorous exploration of father-daughter relationships with Evans the blonde-haired result of a 1993 union between Johnson and a flight attendant during a trip to Brussels. The resultant show is based around her attempts to make contact, their similarities and the ultimate hope that one night the PM will actually attend the show.

The most important thing about this brief scratch piece is that My Dad Boris is a really great idea and however it evolves in the coming months, Evans should hold on to the strength of this concept around which many ideas and alternative directions will form. And some of the current material is equally strong – the regression to the early 90s and the fateful meeting between her parents over a packet of prawn cocktail crisps, and the flexibility of the structure that allows Evans to respond to topical events including a lacerating joke about the recent wedding being an attempt to change the news cycle.

At the moment though, Evans has inherited a little too much of her fictional father’s chaos and the show flits between topics, overuses the same joke about Michael Gove – which was actually pretty funny the first time – and gets a little lost in an extended musical tribute to Winston Churchill. Some of the jokes are not quite landing yet especially the political references to the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, which is a little less on point than some of the more recent allusions.

But Evans’ biggest selling point is herself and she has a lovely self-deprecating rapport with the audience who warm to her instantly. The quiet and understated delivery suits the story and with a little bit of structure, My Dad Boris has tons of potential as a slightly longer comedy routine. One option could frame the show around the character’s belief that Boris is her father in spite of her mother’s objections, drawing parallels between them that could extend a similar section already in the show.

Another route could explore the impact of discovering such a controversial figure is her dad, what that means for her own lifestyle and close relationships, perhaps with attempts to track him down. The reflection on a revelation which can only be mixed news will give the show its drive and add an emotional dimension, allowing the show a few moments of poignancy that could explore the character’s need to find a father.

The Downstairs space at the Pleasance has been adapted for social distancing with seats 2 metres apart and plastic screens between audience members. Seats are a designated mask-free zone and while most take the opportunity to remove theirs, it’s not obligatory depending on your levels of comfort.

But back to the show, and after all this time, it is no easy thing to stand in front of an expectant audience waiting to be entertained and with My Dad Boris Evans is well on the way to doing that with a really strong idea.

Reviewed on 31 May 2021

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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