A Grave Reunion is a dark ‘poetical’ play adapted from the radio play by Nick Card. It is set at a wake where four friends meet ten years after university. Controversially, the play begins with resentment toward the man whose wake the characters are attending as Barry, the deceased’s half-brother, repeatedly curses him. This sets the scene for a host of remarks against the deceased man. This challenges conventional notions of speaking well of the dead regardless of their actions when they were alive. Just how this man has affected the lives of those at the wake is slowly revealed to the audience.
Despite being set in a wake the atmosphere is not particularly morbid - after all, the group does not feel particularly sad about the occasion. The four characters catch up, as conversations deviate from the dead man’s corruption; they have upbeat but emotional discussions about relationships, motherhood, university, and future plans.
The characters are diverse and reflect the way that friends who go their separate ways change. Dom is a Marxist and aspiring to be a Masters student following two years writing articles and travelling, but is awkward and does not deal with feelings or people particularly well. Fliss is a mother who can’t look after her child and lives in the moment; most of her time is spent chasing Dom into bed. Sarah, a shy single mother, and Barry, the brother-in-law, does not reveal much about himself other than his distaste toward his brother and being the flatmate of Dom. The actors do a good job embodying their characters. Despite this, there was no one memorable performance capable of making the acting stand out as a driving force. This resulted in making the conversations seem fairly mundane and the characters’ lives only mildly absorbing. However, when the dead man’s secret is revealed a new level of complexity is added to the characters that could not be achieved from the beginning.
Where the actors do best is in integrating the play’s poetry, as they pull it off without detracting from the conversations in the plot. Thus the poetry feeds into the conversation fairly naturally without feeling over acted, allowing the mood not to be dependent on the form but rather the content of the script.The best aspect of this production is undoubtedly the script, making this a worthwhile show to watch.