Mary Woodward Review

Eulogy by Rob Drummond, Traverse Theatre Review

A Play, A Pie and a Pint – Eulogy  by Rob Drummond Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 

**** 4Stars

Bizarrely, this is another play in the Play, Pie, Pint season which talks about truth and the lies we tell ourselves and each other – which is not what I expected from the synopsis – “Six years ago Sandy ruined his daughter’s wedding day with a Top Table speech for the ages.  Well, the joke’s on him, because now, he’s dead.  You are cordially invited to Sandy’s memorial service…”

We are handed an order of service, with a photo of the dearly departed, as we enter. Andy, Sandy’s brother, is the minister leading the service, and as he talks of Sandy’s life we learn a lot about both brothers and their effect on each other’s lives – Andy is the elder and seems to have spent his entire life fishing his brother out of the messes he’s got himself into, and losing out himself in the process.  Anne, Sandy’s wife, is made out to be the villain of the piece, running off with a Cypriot sailor, with whom she and Sandy’s two children are now living.  She is not expected at the service – but suddenly she comes out from the audience and starts telling her completely different version of Sandy’s life and what he was like to live with.  There is a further twist in the tale which I won’t reveal…

There was much laughter in the audience, at many points – why did I not join in?  Why did I not think it funny?  I suspect it was for the same reason that I don’t laugh at people’s misfortunes, but tend to sympathise with them…

I didn’t find it amusing when Sandy’s ineptitude was gradually revealed, nor laugh at the bizarre accidents which constantly befell him or when it became clear that Andy’s life had been blighted by his need constantly to come to his brother’s aid, at the expense of his own happiness.  Even when Anne erupted from the audience – a feisty wee wifie determined to put the record straight – I was engrossed, but not amused… (everyone else was!)  Andy saw his brother as ‘a victim of circumstance’: to Anne he was ‘a professional martyr, a vortex of misery’ who would drag everyone around him into his bottomless pit of self-pity and woe.  As the play progressed, Andy’s caring façade began to crack and he joined Anne in bemoaning their ruined lives and agreeing that Sandy “enjoyed being miserable”.  And then the huge surprise: but I’m not going to tell you what it is…

The audience were drawn into the action, being the mourners at the memorial service, hearing Sandy’s pre-recorded “If you’re listening to this, then I’m dead” video, being appealed to by Andy for corroboration of family history, and invited to join in the chorus of Sandy’s re-working of Candle in the Wind.  One ‘relation’ in the  ‘congregation’ read Sandy’s appallingly-rhymed poem “What is death?”, but we all completely failed to come up with ‘a few kind words’ to fill an awkward open-mike silence.  Anne gave us a memorable solo rendition of Sandy, complete with glitterball lights, and most of us joined in the final ‘hymn’ When you’re smiling before moving off into the Traverse bar to share our memories of the dear departed…

It was a clever play, well acted, and with an excellent twist to end: most of the audience loved it, and laughed throughout.  It didn’t tickle my funny bone, but it brightened many people’s day.

A Play, A Pie and a Pint – Eulogy  by Rob Drummond Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh  24 April 2018 Runs until 28th April for Tickets go to: https://www.traverse.co.uk/whats-on/event-detail/1379/a-play-a-pie-and-a-pint-eulogy.aspx

Review by Mary Woodward

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