Edinburgh Fringe 2014
I’m not pale, I’m dead
The Roof The House
Venue: Assembly Hall venue 35
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
Lydia Nicholson wrote this delightful gem and performs her solo show with assurance and charm. It comes to Edinburgh on the back of sell outs at the Adelaide Fringe and other venues in Nicholson’s native Australia, and deserves to do well here.
The show takes the form of a seminar being delivered by an experienced inhabitant of the afterlife to those newly ‘passed over’. When Lydia realises that we look too healthy and opaque to be dead she relishes in the opportunity to share with us all the things she has learnt in the two years since her untimely, and violent, death in the hope that we won’t make the same mistakes as her.
The top tips include wear something comfortable when you die and always have some coins about you, to pay for the ferry of course. Good to know that the white ghoul shroud is thrown in for free. The piece is full of laugh out loud one liners which Nicholson delivers to perfection. There is some gentle audience interaction and participation but nothing to scare the horses. Nicholson the actor handles us well and as a trainer Lydia would score highly on a feedback form.
Nicholson wrote this piece as a response to real life events in Australia, comparing public reaction to two separate viscous murders of young women as she began to develop the piece. One criticism that could be made of the writing is that there is room for a deeper exploration of public reaction to violent crime and our often contradictory acceptance of domestic violence. As it stands what inspired her to write is too underplayed. What Nicholson does do very well is create in Lydia an everyday young woman who has a good time, loves her mum and dad and cares deeply for her friends. She encourages us to look behind the headlines and think about every person who is murdered as deserving of our sympathy, however glib our assumptions about their behaviour.
Don’t expect this to be a whodunit; it is much more subtle than that. As Nicholson herself reflects when talking about the show the point she wants to make is that don’t let the manner of dying be the narrow focus of what those left behind remember. Make this show part of your Edinburgh schedule and you will leave the theatre smiling, with the added bonus of a death to-do list.