Daniel Bye’s baby is an exemplary baby. As Come Look at the Baby, the 2016 fringe hit proved, watching an adorable tiny human for an hour can make for wonderful entertainment.
In Arthur, Bye presents you with his offspring in the comfort of your own home. The resultant cuddles are great, but Arthur is not a novelty act. The show that bears his name is a gentle, sweet, contemplative hour on parenting and genetics.
Occasionally interrupted by baby Arthur’s perfect comic timing, Bye explores his hopes for his son. Delving into his family tree, he ponders how he can nurture the best of what might already be lying in Arthur’s genetics. If height and eye colour are dictated by your DNA, what about kindness? Or an excellent sense of humour? The latter it seems the kid has already got in droves if his giggles are anything to go by.
It turns out that one of the most terrifying things about parenting is that all the good you do has very little impact ultimately. Yet, unfairly, any wrong move can result in devastating consequences – and thousands of pounds in future therapy.
Bye is an engaging storyteller and he’s woven an informative, moving exploration on the social and scientific evidence for nature versus nurture. How many choices, for example, has Bye inadvertently voided for Arthur already, simply by virtue of his name?
The presence of Arthur, in the midst of all this, disallows any separation from the subject matter and its urgency. What we do today will impact on the children of tomorrow.