Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Todd enters as the facilitator of the bereavement group and asks people to come and sit round in a semi circle to speak about their issues of bereavement. Four people emerge from the audience. We have 19 year old Lily who’s mum died a year ago from cancer, Emily who’s dad died a year ago too, but in a car accident thanks to a drunk driver, Sam, who’s dad died and her boyfriend makes her come at the beginning and James who has the responsibility of looking after his brother. Over a simple hour of therapy, we get several meetings and weeks of growth and coming to terms of the loneliness of being left behind and the community of grief that this group has become.
This is a conceit, the group therapy meeting, that tries very hard to bring an issue, seen as being worthy of a theatrical production to our attention. That some of us may have lost parents already in the audience, leaves us a little in the shade as we think we got over it, but then the young ages of our cast give context. This is about abrupt bereavement or young adults being left to deal with adult grief and it works after a fashion.
The solo stories are good, but their delivery can seem a little on edge rather than balanced and with peaks and troughs. When we eventually get the most reserved of the four, when James gets up, the fact that he does not do so alone, works well.
Some of the monologues are more successful than others but it all is one monotone of misery. There are little flashes of anger which is just stretching the misery a little more and the script could do with more light and shade. Even the date gets handled with fun at its centre rather than emotional balance.
Directorially it also could do with a more creative way of moving from one week to another. The snap out and in and move about whilst in darkness makes it too stark, even for something as bleak as this. Interaction between the cast therefore tends to be snappy and sharp and there were a few scenes which were so short that they had not developed properly. There is a need to get some kind of drafting and testing processes to try and find that depth.
This is a lovely group with a creative and quite worthy topic. I think with a little bit of work and some advice it could grow and become much more than the current set of its parts; at times each of these young performers showed glimpses of being more than capable of taking that next step.