A coffin occupies centre stage. Joe, the son of the deceased, enters. Normally this would be a scene of grief. This is not so. Joe is present to rejoice and obtain final closure on a father who was an abusive drunkard.
Joe addresses the coffin and recounts his life from his earliest recollections as a 4 year old growing up in a Glasgow tenement. There is much humour in the script, but, at the same time, there is Joe’s deep seated rage. His father was a man who never showed any affection for his son.
Joe learned to compensate by developing entrepreneurial skills in a street-wise way. As an 8 year old he was earning more money than he knew what to do with by doing paper rounds and becoming a bookie’s runner. David Hayman’s performance is highly animated. For instance, Joe had an imaginary horse which he rode when he was doing his rounds as the bookie’s runner. This is depicted as prancing round the coffin.
As well as the physicality in David Hayman’s performance, his timing and inflection of the comedy lines is perfection and the seething emotions within Joe have a convincing intensity.
Rony Bridges’ play set in an undertaker’s parlour might be considered bleak. Far from it, there is a life affirming quality in that individuals can rise above a disadvantaged childhood and, by strength of character, carve out a successful life.
Reviewed by Ben
Assembly Rooms George St: 20
2 to 26 August 2012 (not 13)
13.00 – 14.10
Fringe Programme Page Number: 320