Heart warming and laugh out loud funny, Deborah Frances-White’s Half a Can of Worms showing at the Pleasance Dome is a charming tale of discovering who your family is whether biological or otherwise.
‘This a true story’, a projection tells us as the show opens, ‘Not comedian true’. A comedian by profession, it certainly feels that Frances-White has taken a more serious approach to telling her own story of finding her birth mother. However, the result is still hugely entertaining and the fact that it is true meant it was conveyed with such conviction and emotion that towards the end I found myself tearing up.
Although the story of an adopted child on a quest to find their biological parents is not an original one, Frances-White’s fresh take on the scenario is situated entirely within the digital age as we found ourselves falling down the Facebook rabbit hole. The audience were left in stitches being shown the characters that she had dredged up from the darkest corners of the internet and I was left slightly unsettled being shown the ease in which you can uncover information online: her own private Googling proved to be more efficient than the hiring of a private detective.
The story-telling was accompanied by a patchwork of photographic evidence of her investigations projected onto a screen behind her, used perfectly for both comic effect (one such sequence being where she projects her eyebrows on to random strangers to uncover a biological match) and also being highly moving.
The only slight distraction for me was the style of Frances-White’s delivery, which fell somewhere between stand up comic and storyteller. This at times seemed to clash with the intent of what she was saying, some lines obviously being played for laughs and some just seeming like you were casually chatting with a friend down the pub. Was this Frances-White the comic and performer speaking to us, or Frances-White the real person? However, this wasn’t enough of a distraction to not become enthralled in the story and a direct audience address at the beginning was used to great effect welcoming us all in to a relaxed and homely atmosphere.
Although a comic piece, I really sensed the insatiable need for discovery in Frances-White which was both endearing and relatable. In her own words, you ‘can’t open half a can of worms’. Perhaps the ending was slightly sickly sweet, but this was a true story and, in reality, who doesn’t want their own happy ending? 4/5
Review written by Katie Jackson.
Deborah Frances-White’s Half A Can Of Worms is currently showing at the Pleasance Dome until Monday 25th August as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information on the production, visit here…