In the midst of a global plague that has already claimed close to two and a half million lives, worldwide playwright Lorien Haynes takes a look into the lives of those impacted by the passing of ones they love. Good Grief (Original Theatre Online) invites us to consider the difficult question of how long we should wait after that loss before becoming romantically involved again. Adam (Nikesh Patel) has lost his wife Liv to cancer. While she lived he was a loving and caring partner and now finds himself, as so many do, in no mans land. Cat (Sian Clifford), Liv’s best friend, is helping him sort stuff out at the end of the wake. Death is a messy business in so many ways. As they do there are moments of awkwardness and a suggestion of mutual attraction. The sorrow of bereavement that they both feel plays havoc with emotions and it seems inevitable they will end in a lustful entanglement that ends in guilt and regret.
It is a tender and touching piece but Haynes is also keen to show the other side of that sadness with language that is peppered with sobbing anger manifested as raw vernacular. Patel and Clifford are accomplished performers who are virtually believable especially considering that the whole thing was pulled together after two days rehearsal on Zoom and filmed in a studio. The intent being to give the feeling of live theatre combined with the flexibility of film. They almost pull it off and director Natalie Abrahami skilfully plays with this artistic artifice providing moments of surprise and intimacy. Forty five minutes later I am almost converted to online theatre (regular readers will know I have struggled adapting to the genre). I especially liked the opening up of the whole theatrical experience giving the studio crew the spotlight in between scenes and the minimalist set being an effective and appropriate visual aid. A very creditable and watchable production that doesn’t say anything new and isn’t a particularly good advert for millennial solipsism. Such is life, and death, and it left me yearning even more for the live experience that cannot be matched by technological innovation.
Being a lark I watched the play in the early hours of the morning and was just about to step into the shower when birdsong stopped me in my tracks. I quickly opened the bathroom window but could not see who was responsible for such a beautiful sound, a gorgeous combination of trills, chirps, whistles and tweets. It was quite simply gorgeous avian musicality, natural and unmatched, and for those few heavenly moments Covid and lockdown paled into insignificance. A few minutes later I turned the radio on and reality hit home once more. However, rather than lose myself in the ridiculousness of the Trump impeachment farrago – surprise surprise he lives to fight another day and he will – or the euphoria of the 15 million people having been “offered” or “delivered” their first vaccination (semantics rule the airwaves) – credit to all those involved – I instead took heart from human connection.
Online dating has surged astronomically during the pandemic. It did make me wonder how you can enjoy a socially distanced date knowing the naturally tactile human instinct. One couple not only conquered that but then went the full monty and moved in together within a month. Madness or Cupid weaving his amorous magic, I wish them well. It was Valentines Day last Sunday. Finally, if you want something to do this week, why not drive 200 miles to give comfort to someone you love who is feeling “distressed.” As Barnard Castle taught us what’s good for the goose…
Good Grief – www.originaltheatreonline.com