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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

How to be a Better Human

Brave Words

Genre: Drama, New Writing, Spoken Word, Theatre

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

In 2019 Chris Singleton’s father dies and months later his wife leaves him. In his spoken word show about this, Chris doesn’t shy away from the pain but by showing the funny and ridiculous moments that occur along the way too, this becomes a funny and life affirming performance.


With all the self improvement books, TED talks and podcasts out there telling us how to be better we should all be perfect by now. While Chris Singleton’s play, ‘How to be a better human’, sounds like yet another (yawn) addition to the self improvement industry, it’s far more entertaining and life affirming than that. It’s about getting through the most hellish of times and finding the strength to rebuild.

n 2019 Chris Singleton’s dad died and months later his wife left him, not the best of years then. One of those years, in fact, when the tsunami of what happens threatens to overwhelm you and while ‘How to be a better human’ expresses that, it does so with warmth, humour and empathy. This may be a show about bereavement and loss, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be funny – and funny it certainly is.

He tells a story that will be familiar to the audience – an ordinary family living day to day lives with no inkling of what disaster lies ahead until an out of the blue diagnosis of terminal cancer for his father leaves the family reeling. This is a family that doesn’t talk about love but obviously loves each other deeply.  Chris doesn’t shy away from conveying the pain as well as the funny and ridiculous moments that occur as the family come together during the last months of his dad’s life. And then, as he returns from scattering his dad’s ashes, his wife tells him she’s leaving him. Not surprisingly, Chris’ life is a mess.  There’s huge skill in how he explores this territory so sensitively and compassionately. 

Written and performed by Chris Singleton, this is a good natured spoken word show that uses Powerpoint (framed as a Tod talk), dialogue, poetry, music and animation to tell his story. Chris’ delivery is low key and understated, well tuned to its subject matter. There’s original music by Reece Jacob and beautiful animation by Huckleberry Films. Director, Tom Malcolm Wright, keeps the show flowing tightly enough while leaving it slightly rough around the edges to let its very human story stay raw and heartfelt.

Don’t let the fact that it’s about grief put you off – ‘How to be a better human’ is funny, warm and honest. You’ll laugh a lot but I can’t promise you won’t cry – a tear or two certainly crept down my cheeks.. 

Grief can’t exist without love – and Chris Singleton demonstrates this in abundance.