Dance review: Death and Gardening
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Death and Gardening at Assembly Roxy (Venue 139), reviewed by Kelly Apter
Where we go when we die – if anywhere – is a subject we humans will never tire of contemplating. So top marks to Wet Picnic for picking a topic that is unlikely to date. But this entertaining show does much more than tap into our post-death curiosity.
Death and Gardening passes comment on the absurdity of modern-day regulations, takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the service industry and, most of all, touches us with a heart-felt love story. Greeting us on arrival, three women dressed in yellow holiday camp-style jackets try to put us at ease. They’re here, they tell us, to look after our every need as we move through to the point of no return.
Happily, today is not our unlucky day. These saccharine-coated “grin reapers” are focusing their attentions on David Fanshaw, a young man with his first baby on the way, whose luck runs out on the way to a job interview.
Viktor Lukawski is endlessly watchable as the hapless Fanshaw, trying to negotiate his way through red tape, paperwork and staff tea breaks on his way to the afterlife. Two of our celestial tour guides also do a fine job doubling up as Fanshaw’s pregnant wife and meddlesome mother, while the third has us laughing out loud with her cigarette-smoking, nonchalant indifference.
Much time is spent building up a backstory for David and his young wife Susan. Watching them blunder through an awkward nightclub exchange, we start to invest in their relationship, making it all the more poignant when Susan refuses to leave her dying husband’s bedside.
Both the script and highly physical storytelling of Death and Gardening ensure the laughs come thick and fast at first – then have you reaching for a tissue.
At the end, Wet Picnic tells us this is a work in progress, which is good news indeed. The comic and emotional potential of this show is huge, and with performances of this quality, they could double the running time without fear of boredom.
Until 26 August. Today 6:10pm
More info: Death and Gardening is at Assembly Roxy
Originally published in The Scotsman