The extremely likeable Katie Mulgrew couldn’t make it to last year’s Fringe due to a pressing family issue: Jim, her brand new baby son. He’s the saboteur in question, having thrown a massive, messy spanner into Mulgrew’s working life.
Then again, Jim has now inspired a full hour-long comeback show. So, swings and roundabouts. And poo-splattered cots. And awful circus-themed birthday parties. There’s much anecdotal mirth to be mined from a baby’s early months, in the right hands.
If you know your Fringe comedy but don’t yet know Mulgrew, she’s sort of a Lancastrian Mae Martin, with similar quirks—that nerdy internal monologue, those frequent cheery "guys!" to keep us engaged. But there's also a sense, as with Martin, that this is a pretence-free real person onstage. She reveals her most intimate, sometimes gruesome baggage like an old friend in the pub loosened up by sambuca (which was also the catalyst for Jim’s conception, it transpires).
It’s all so endearingly frank, in fact, that the show’s descent into darker territory late on is genuinely affecting, even troublingly tense. If you don’t care about Mulgrew and her immediate family by then, you’re probably borderline psychopathic and should definitely get that checked out.
Meanwhile, any comics harbouring doubts about why they do this curious job—and during the Fringe, it’s probably most of them—would be well advised to check in for some intensive Mulgrew therapy. The denouement here rather wonderfully explains exactly why Katie does it, and why this seemingly silly business is so important. Laugh-affirming stuff.