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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

My Dad Wears A Dress

Maria Telnikoff

Genre: New Writing, Solo Show, Theatre

Venue: Underbelly Cowgate: Delhi Belly


Low Down

A one-woman show about growing up with a trans female parent, written and performed by Maria Telnikoff. A journey through childhood an school showing the difficulties of fitting in as a young person and the fears we feel about being labelled as “outside the box”.


An energetic, lively show to start your Fringe day. This show offers exactly what it says on the flyer, a personal story about growing up with a trans female parent. Although, as the title clearly states, this is about life with a dad who wears a dress, in reality it will speak to anyone who has ever felt that their family is the weirdest thing on this earth and worried endlessly about what other people will think.

Maria Telnikoff takes us through her school years starting with a very convincing 5yr old on her first day at school – in January not September when everyone else started, so it’s essential to make her mark, which she does, with great flair. And thus creates the first car crash of many.

Telnikoff’s writing is fluent and she is at ease with her audience, even when beset by some of the inevitable early Fringe technical moments. She uses the present tense to great effect to draw us into her stories.

The stage is a black box with no set beyond a box of costume, a sparkly bin (for discarded costume), a chair – that serves many purposes – and a desk with a few school items.

Telnikoff is a very accomplished and confident story teller, moving smoothly between narrative storytelling and her characters – herself at different ages, her parents, several teachers and school friends. Much of the story is told in the present tense which give it greater immediacy and, occasionally, she drops out of character to throw in an aside directly to us adding a nice startle element.

She uses an item of costume, a prop, some dance, physical theatre and miming to favourite songs effectively. As well as the music there are just enough sound effects to reinforce elements of the story without interfering with it. The whole is carefully thought through and, although the overall effect is zany, nothing is wasted, everything helps to drive the story forwards.

It is the story of gradually realising that what you thought was perfectly normal isn’t in fact what everyone else’s life is like, beginning to try and make sense of that, to fit in with what you think you should fit in with. Much of the laughter in the room felt very much to be a ‘yes, I know just how that feels/felt’. However, for all the laugh out loud moments this show has depth and highlights some of the many ways and places that our heteronormative values will impact on a child in Maria’s position.

The conclusion is a glorious celebration of diversity.

And yes, there is a kilt joke…