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Stay At Home Dad
Published on Wednesday, 16 May 2012

3 stars

Laughing Horse @ The Temple (venue website)
14-16, 21-23 May, 9:30pm-10:30pm
Reviewed by Darren Taffinder

 Suitable for age 18+ only.
 World Premiere.
 2-for-1 tickets for Friends of the Fringe members.

I have a lot in common with comedian Eden Rivers. We both got married on Caribbean islands. We both have wives who are successful in their careers. And we have both been stay-at-home dads – the difference being that he has two daughters when I wimped out with one. However, every so often I have moments of real doubt. If I were a proper dad, shouldn’t I have provided better for my family?

This is the struggle of every stay-at-home dad, and one that Eden really captures in his show. On one hand it’s great to step up and be there for your children. On the other, you can’t help worry that somehow you’re not father enough because you’re not financially supporting your children. What does it mean to be a dad? And please don’t call me Mr. Mum.

Tuesday night typically isn’t the best night for comedy, and it’s hard to riff on parenting to a group that looks like they’ve only recently left home. But overall the show was funny, and in some parts really funny. Eden has a great comic presence, and he interacted well with the audience. I particularly enjoyed the bit about taking his daughter to the indoor playground; anyone who has ever been to one of these places would understand the hell that they are. His 45 seconds of impersonation of his older daughter asking if it’s time to go yet were hilarious.    

However, I felt like it was less a show than a series of stand-up vignettes, connected loosely by a theme. Given the promising concept, I was expecting more on what it’s like to be a man in a women’s world, and how he got to that position – and less about how shopping in Ikea on the weekend really stinks (I know, I’ve been there). What the show really needed was a sense of narrative, and without that story, the end didn’t have the emotional pay-off that he was struggling for.

Sometimes, it works. About half-way through he mentions how his wife was told that she may not be able to conceive, but that they actually conceived quite quickly; and he also mentions very briefly that he became a stay-at-home dad after being made redundant. These moments go too quickly, and I wanted him to stop and explore. Comedy is best when it’s specific and surprising. And I know what it’s like to be made redundant, especially when you have kids - it really sucks.

On one more technical point, referring constantly back to his notebook broke up the flow of the show, and made it feel a little disjointed. But the potential is undoubtedly there. Rivers has material for a great show – and more importantly has a great presence, especially when he lets himself go a little bit. It’s just not yet fitting together quite as well as it could.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.