Dead Fresh

The promotional blurb for Dead Fresh warns you that missing the secret of this dark comedy (or perhaps missing the comedy itself – there’s some pronoun confusion in there) ‘could be fatal’. Fortunately, they’ve already revealed the secret (it’s a corpse) in the previous sentence. Go on, scroll down and check. Unfortunately, the play is written in much the same way; one humourless, plotless scene follows on from the next, with seemingly no relation to what happened before or what will after.

That the ending still managed to disappoint after the woeful scenes preceding it is testament to how little thought went into every part of Dead Fresh.

The ‘plot’ concerns five students sharing a flat, who meet for the first time during Freshers week. They go out, they get drunk and then, when one of them takes a boy home, he ends up dying on her mid-shag. It’s a moderately interesting premise, even if Downton Abbey did it first, quicker and far, far better.

The characters are not so much paper-thin as soggy papier-mâché being washed away with every paltry attempt at a joke. There’s Sarah, the poor girl who ended up with a corpse for a lover, who could serve as a sympathetic straight-woman if she didn’t hyperventilate her way through every scene; Kat, an amoral drinker who can’t keep a solid characterisation for more than a page of dialogue; The German One, who had a name, but was really only defined by the flag he wore on his t-shirt; The Posh One, ditto but with a short skirt and the most stilted delivery I have ever heard at Fringe; and Phil, a stoner wearing tie-dye, whose actor, by displaying some actual talent for physical comedy (however misplaced it was), throws his fellow performers under the bus.

If the characters are weak, the story is worse. The script plummets into a plot hole barely ten minutes in. “Can’t we just call the police?” wails Sarah, beginning one of her squeaky panic attacks. The answer is, of course, yes and the script doesn’t come up with a way to get round it. Is it possible that five university students wouldn’t realise that accidental death isn’t criminal? Then again, five university students came up to Edinburgh with this travesty, so perhaps my expectations are too high.

You can see where they thought the gags would come, but either the writing or execution lets them down in every case. In one scene, the students all attempt to drown their sorrows, miming drinking from real, empty bottles – one actor forgot to take the lid off hers, but swigged away. All of the potential farce from disposing of a dead body vanishes the moment you realise there’s no body at all – perhaps it’s a relief that they don’t attempt to mime moving it, but it leaves us with a very action-less play.

After the first ten minutes the rest of the play focuses on getting rid of the body – or rather, throwing around stupid ideas for how to do it until one is plucked at random for a rushed and incompetently delivered climax. That the ending still managed to disappoint after the woeful scenes preceding it is testament to how little thought went into every part of Dead Fresh

Reviews by Frankie Goodway

New Diorama Theatre

In Our Hands

★★★
Museum of Comedy

Jo Burke: iScream

★★
Pleasance Courtyard

zazU: A Fête Worse Than Death

★★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

1 Given Head

★★★
Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Scott Bennett: About a Roy (Stories About Me Dad)

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Rhys James: Remains

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Freshers: sex, alcohol and a corpse under your bed. What would you do? Chop it? Cook it? Dump it in a river? In this dark comedy, follow Sarah's mission to keep a secret so sinister, missing it could be fatal.