Coup de Grâce

Coup De Grâce follows the supposed mental rehabilitation (through advanced experimental therapy) of Emma, a young woman haunted by her past. We see her memories and history unfold as the events leading up to her present state are played out, under the watchful eye of “the greeter”, a doctor who guides her through these emotional scenes.

Gives the piece an eerie ill-at-ease feel, which adds to the atmosphere of the piece

Ruth Brandon’s portrayal of Emma is near faultless. The subtlety with which she navigates the story of the tragic protagonist is refreshing to behold. This role could easily lend itself to over acting due to the strong emotional journey and spikes the character feels, but the underplaying of the performance is exactly what the doctor ordered. She holds together the production and is a rock upon which the rest of the story unfolds.

Most of the time Michael J Warne gives an assured performance as “the greeter”, but occasionally he dips into an slightly stereotypical showing of an antagonistic character, which breaks the continuity of the story. With a touch more honesty and naturalism this would be a lovely performance. Still, Warne is obviously a skilled actor and is well suited to the role; we often see a glimmer of something excellent in his work.

Patrick Fuller only very rarely drops the ball, for the majority of the play he gives a very strong, reliable show. What is lovely is that on occasion he really brings something excellent to the work – we really can see him as a figment or projection of Emma’s imagination with no hint of cliché ghost acting. Some of his work is during the most poignant parts of the production and we are thoroughly taken in.

Eliza Rose as Catherine is joyful. Her naturalistic yet energetic contribution is always a welcome addition to the stage. This makes Catherine’s less light moments all the more powerful. Some great work. Indeed the whole style of almost disconnected (though not in a bad way) acting gives the piece an eerie ill-at-ease feel which adds to the atmosphere of the piece. This is a lovely stroke from Director Effie Scott.

The script by Hannah Hopkins Jones almost achieves something great – we are left feeling that something really fantastic is almost hit upon. Unfortunately it needs a bit more coaxing to get there. The story as a whole really takes us in but just falls short of delivering the real goods. This is, however, what the fringe is for – putting things out there which might otherwise be seen as too raw. Indeed, with a small amount of tweaking to the script, and a truly minute boost in the occasional performance, this would be a five star show.

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Performances

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The Blurb

A young woman is forced to relive the grisly events leading up to the evening that changed her life. However, the harder she tries, the more she realises her memory might be playing tricks on her with disastrous results for the present. Retracing her steps and re-enacting seemingly harmless conversations, she struggles to be honest with herself about her two best friends and about her own state of mind.

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