Daddy Drag review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘poignant drag king show about fathers’
Leyla Josephine swaggers on stage in a dressing gown, vest and pants. With a stubbled chin and padded gut, she’s clad in dad drag, playing a version of her father.
This is very much a show of two halves. For the first part of the show, Josephine is jocular and jovial, a good host, a man’s man, hauling a volunteer on stage for a spot of fishing and throwing a few sausages onto the BBQ (and around the venue). She dad-dances, makes off-colour jokes, and cracks open a few beers.
This drag king dad act is interspersed with recorded interviews with her mother, recalling her husband and the good times they shared, but gradually the tone of these changes, and with it the tone of the show.
A more complicated man emerges than the pally caricature – an emotionally closed-off man, who could be as cruel as he was kind and was part of a generation of men who did not discuss their feelings and who gave very little of themselves away.
In the light of this, Josephine can’t continue her jolly drag act. She stops and slowly, almost ritualistically, begins wiping off her make-up. The show feels a bit over-stretched and repetitious at an hour, but it has real emotional potency. It becomes apparent that Josephine’s attempt to inhabit her dad is futile. You can replicate a person’s mannerisms and voice, but it won’t bring you any closer to knowing them. It won’t bring them back.
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