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Review: GOOD GRIEF at Underbelly, Cowgate

Review: GOOD GRIEF at Underbelly, Cowgate

Review of Good Grief at Edinburgh Fringe

Review: GOOD GRIEF at Underbelly, Cowgate Review: GOOD GRIEF at Underbelly, Cowgate

Good Grief is a silly eulogy to lost loved ones. Specifically, it was born from the wish of a friend of the Ugly Bucket theatre company, Tim Miles, who asked the group to create a performance in his memory after his death from cancer.

Through the medium of clowning, five performers map a wonderful, colourful, and dippy way through the toils of pre-grief when a loved one is terminally ill to the infinite void that is missing someone who has gone. The show adeptly embodies the cacophony of emotions that form our experiences of death and grief.

Our grief guides navigate a colourful stage. An - honestly - very stylish grave sits in the right-hand corner. Flesh-coloured set pieces provide a perfect, albeit slightly creepy, cover for the clowns in all of their different 'fonts', from ghost-themed clowns to religion-themed clowns.

The on-stage action is wordless except for the clownish that the characters speak ('ooooh', 'bree!', 'reh?' etc). Recordings of the performers and their friends play throughout to provide narrative clarity. At the start, we hear about the origin story of Good Grief, about Tim and his wish. A voice explains that he wanted it to be 'funny'. His comrades-in-face paint achieve this, and it is also exceptionally, painfully moving. From celebrating Christmas early to paranormal creatures assisting the grieving, each scene is a gut punch delivered with a side-serving of laughter.

I felt like I had swallowed a swarm of bees throughout, constantly holding back waves of loud and snotty crying, until a clown would pull an excellent face and then I would crease up again. I don't know how the group are performing this show every day. Partially because of their loss and the difficulty of that, but also because they have to look out on an audience, most of whom are on the snot-crying-spectrum throughout. You can see audience members relating to the show and it's beautiful and (forgive me...) cathartic. But it's also another level of sheer heartbreak.

Good Grief is exceptional. It is agony and mirth all wrapped up in an art form that is perfect for communicating the universal familiarity of grief and death, where words often fail us.

TodayTix Extension

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