Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Pauline Goldsmith takes us through a good old fashioned Irish wake with tea, angel cake, a dram and sympathy dealt with a tinge of little regret. It makes for an exceptionally funny and at times poignant rendition of the traditions of a send off that is just a sing song short of perfection.
There is very little left to say about Bright Colours Only as it has been round more houses than you can name. it has settled back into the Fringe in Edinburgh after a decade of being away and the question that should be asked is – is it as relevant and fresh as it was then? Hell, yes is the answer and that might end up the destination for many of us laughing heartily at Goldsmith’s Irish funeral tea.
The thing is that although I am not Irish – I have been to that funeral tea. As the youngest son of a woman who was the youngest of 7 I grew up nipping down to Barrhill in Ayrshire annually to bury a relative or two. I recognise all of the tropes and all of the traditions, and all of the embarrassment.
The script therefore hits the notes but it is Goldsmith herself who has honed her wee comments and welcomes that allows the mickey to be taken but nothing to be ripped form her audience.
It knows its theatricality and it knows how much it needs to be sincere and at the same time play to the norms. Take the stage hands. With one permanent member of the crew there are 4 helpers who seem to change for each performance. This allows an assured hand to be directing proceedings whilst there is enough of the “amateur” and improvised embarrassment of a funeral tea as 4 people are helping with the sandwiches and whiskey. The hand round is therefore something authentic and improvised – just like at my uncle John’s…
The direction may well have been a nightmare as it is difficult to see how to control someone who knows where to put the pauses and then to crack the craic. But rest assured a long run brings knowledge and the opportunity to ditch what does not work and ramp up what does.
It manages to mix video, cartoon and a Sesame Street sing song with Kermit as well as the reverence with which religion may never be far away from death but here it is on the side lines and we have centre stage in our dealing with the practicalities.
There are a number of highlights from the coffin selling to the innumerable stories that tumble out and into our laps. I shall leave you to discover them but many of the tales reminded me of my Aunt Marion’s…
By the end when it is time to take the coffin out to the hearse people are ready to applaud and follow to wherever Goldsmith would lead.
At times, the scene changes may not be the slickest and whilst the observations may have stood the test of time, this is not a radical re interpretation nor a visionary exploration of death but is quite simply one of the funniest shows you shall find on the fringe. Got a spare hour, go and mourn it…