Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Sunday’s Child Theatre Company present a dark comedy drama that looks at the accidental death of a young man and the impact it has on his four close friends. Each of the grievers has a different coping mechanism which strains their relationships during this difficult time. Then a night of wild partying brings a surprise. A gamut of emotions is explored as the friends wrestle with that great opponent we all fear called death.
A handsome young man sits staring into space as the audience enter. He stands to speak, and the voice we hear is one we all know. Henry is a confident man, one who has his whole life ahead of him – he has a devil may care attitude but there’s one problem. He’s dead. He is joined by four friends. In turn they allow us insight into how they are coping with his death. Liam is religious and thinks he can assist everyone if they adopt a more spiritual approach to life. Chloe is a messed up and abandoned girlfriend – she has taken this death personally. Eleanor is a young free spirit; Henry was the friend who allowed her to be herself. Conor was Henry’s best friend, they did everything together – he is on a hedonistic road to destruction. The four friends vie with each other, constantly squabbling, all of them in pain, trying to cope with the pointless death of their friend and find meaning in life. Death is comically dark too and it draws them together into a party of excess. It is while extremely intoxicated they encounter a stunning revelation.
This is a thought provoking piece of theatre. The characters fight for the right to grieve the way they want to without intrusion. They are possessive about their individual memories of Henry, he played a different role in each of their lives, yet they need each other to keep these memories alive. The women are jealous of each other’s status and when one of them has a one night stand with Conor, the play mutates into ugly bitching. The drama is enhanced by Eleanor’s beautiful yet sorrowful dancing. She spins and turns arching her back as if in great pain, stretching out for something but reaching nothing. The accompanying music is restless and volcanic. Erratic drum and bass rhythms push against mournful melodies that ask questions and yearn for answers.
This young theatre company dig deep inside themselves to bring these characters to life. Chloe’s martyrdom, and ability to pass judgement whilst seeing no faults of her own, is so familiar. Eleanor (brought to life by actress Eva O’Connor, who is also the play’s writer), talks a big game but her vulnerability can only be eased by promiscuity. Conor doesn’t even want to talk about anything. He’s immature and sees no purpose in words. His plan is to be wasted until he stops feeling. The maternal Liam tries to talk everyone down from their precipices using the good book, but by his own admission he can’t bear the thought of there being no afterlife.
Director Sophie Fuller continuously repositions the angles of this drama, allowing differing viewpoints for the audience. With few props, a slim bench for the cast; they bring this story to life. It’s a nice large space allowing O’Connor’s dancing to be fully realised. Subtle lighting changes help enhance monologues, crowded bedrooms, and ethereal dance spaces. This is a provocative piece – , it deals with death but it’s extremely amusing too. This is Sunday’s Child’s second play and if this is the standard of their work- they’re well worth watching.