Very last Easter assessment: Dad jokes, dying and tricky queries


his tale of friendship and terminal cancer is by turns schmaltzy and challenging-hitting. Bryony Lavery’s perform touches curiously on religion, discomfort and assisted suicide, its four people regularly addressing the audience, asking how we’d respond to the struggling and slow dying of anyone close. It is also a theatrical like-in, complete of show-tunes, in-jokes and undesirable gags. The gushiness is normally subverted in Tinuke Craig’s manufacturing – but, however, it’s really gushy.

Naana Agyei-Ampadu’s June is a lighting designer, coolly poised, smart – she does cryptic crosswords, she tells us – and an atheist. Her breast cancer has unfold over and above her lymph nodes to her liver and the prognosis is negative. Homosexual, catholic cabaret artiste Gash (Peter Caulfield) and Jewish American propmaker Leah (Jodie Jacobs) rally spherical.

The strategy of a French holiday getaway morphs improbably into a surprise pilgrimage to Lourdes. Even extra improbably, to defray the cost, they invite together self-obsessed, kind-of Buddhist actress Pleasure (Ellie Piercy), who annihilates herself with booze each evening to cope with the suicide of her unfaithful boyfriend.

It’s not just June’s story then, but a examine of the ethical boundaries and emotional resilience of all 4 people. The way they in shape into pigeonholes of belief and sexuality feels forced, but they are, for the most part, perfectly-drawn. Leah is a great, earthy counterpoint to June’s dryness. Joy is a splendidly monstrous analyze of vainness. Only Gash would seem like also considerably of a stereotype, with his flouncy outfits, shrieks and recurrent invocations of Judy Garland, nevertheless he’s played with gusto by Caulfield.

Lavery says in a programme notice that the perform was encouraged by gatherings in her daily life, and it also would seem to be a car or truck for points of passing interest to her. The detour to “awful, awful” Lourdes in fact feels like a blind alley from the major moral predicament of aiding somebody to die. There is a discourse by June on the use of light-weight in Caravaggio’s portray The Using of Christ that feels in the same way random. I’m a devoted fan of dad jokes but Lavery overloads the participate in with them. Partly this is to balance out the seriousness: partly, I suspect, she loves them too a lot much too. The dialogue of no matter whether you ought to suffocate someone with a bag for everyday living is really humorous, although.

Craig’s manufacturing is brisk and affordable, and the conversation between the solid and the viewers feels organic. “Sorry, it is pretty undramatic,” mutters 1 character when June sleeps. Beneath the larky tone and digressions, there’s a critical and satisfying core to the perform. The concerns it asks have stayed with me.