Available until: 15th April 2021
This isn’t an easy review to write. I have honestly loved a lot of what Original Theatre have produced in lockdown. Watching Rosie and Apollo 13: The Dark Side of the Moon were both really great, Ms Goldie Vs the World was brave and The Haunting of Alice Bowles was a really interesting adaption of a great story.
Good Grief was a bit of a miss for me. Maybe I’m getting old. The title is great. I really liked the way it was filmed.
But the story didn’t really feel right to me. The whole thing felt a bit sordid and disrespectful and I had trouble believing in the friendship between the two characters. I spent the first half of the play hoping something wouldn’t happen because I felt it would ruin it. It happened. Writer Lorien Hayes has written some wonderfully tense exchanges and the characters come across strongly and although no other characters appear, the story is cleverly interwoven with facts that allow us to get a strong impression of what the other people in their lives are like, particularly Liv, who dies before the story begins. But the story was really uncomfortable and I was really quite shocked to find it was described as a romantic comedy because I didn’t find it romantic or funny. I wish I did.
Adam’s partner Liv has died after a seven-year battle with cancer. Adam is trying to deal with it and Cat, Liv’s best friend, is trying to support him, as well as dealing with her own grief. The play starts off well with the two characters and the situation immediately established and there were various revelations which probably did come at a good time dramatically.
Director Natalie Abrahami does really well with setting up shots and finding interesting camera angles – the moments in the hotel and involving the cupboard particularly stand out to me - but her vision of the play and the characters seems to emphasise the harshness of grief, which is definitely not unrealistic but the play is meant to be a romantic comedy.
Nikesh Patel does well with showing Adam’s grief, and uncertainty about life in general and how he’s going to move forward. Sian Clifford’s characterisation of Cat is really strong but she is very brittle and it felt more like unkindness than a struggle to hold it together. I really struggled to empathise with her or to believe in her friendship with Adam.
There are a lot of really positive reviews of Good Grief, some of them with four or even five stars, from reviewers who managed to sense almost everything which I felt was missing from the play. I can only be honest based on what I thought but you might easily find you love it as much as most people do.