FringeReview Scotland 2016
Jo has brought her family along to tell the story of how she wishes to be buried. To help things along she has even scripted it so that nobody is under any illusions as to why she is to be celebrated. From the procession to the slab in the hills around Loch Lomond to singing Elvis and the finale in a Viking Longboat this is a funny look into how one 22 year old would like to be remembered, allegedly.
We arrive to see a body on a table. Jo is then joined by her sister, mum, niece, aunt and gran. They process through the aisle to take their places until Jo sits up and chastises them for being too quick. Oh and the flowers are all wrong. From this interruption we get the idea and Jo continues to direct proceedings from her berth as the dead corpse. We progress through the reflections of her family before sending her off from the shores of Loch Lomond and then an ending which brings the whole matter to a close with a poignant letter to Jo’s great gran.
The structure of this, whilst not massively unique is delivered with a degree of panache. Jo Sharp comes across as the drama queen but one with a soft heart and kind soul. The performance follows a gentle pathway which never falls into the maudlin or the mawkish whilst also avoiding the over sentimental with more than occasional stabs at the funny bone. Sharp has brought together the whole thing as a mickey take which hits most of its targets.
The danger, though, of bringing in your family is that you gain authenticity at the expense of performance. There was enough charm from all of the family, and well delivered lines, that we were saved from squirming in our seats. That having been said, in another arena, better and more rehearsal would not go amiss.
The props and costume as well as the technical effects gave us a great wee platform on which we were very entertained. Whilst I was, at times feeling a bit critical over the performances on show it was when we got to the ending that my opinion sharply changed. The set up for getting Sharp out of the box is masterful. As it got a great wee laugh it made me reflect on how Sharp had created the conditions for this ending to work by providing us with all the nonsense that preceded it.
Whilst I could have done without the explanation of how Sharp got her family involved the simplicity and honesty of the letter to her great gran hit home perfectly.
Whilst there were areas for general improvement, Elvis never sounded more apt whilst it was a good hour’s worth of a very well conceived piece of theatre.