Instils within us a sense of melancholy cheer, and never does it feel uncomfortable
It’s a laugh and cry kind of offering, so superbly acted that the transitions between each emotion are subtle enough not to be jarring, and we’re left predominantly absorbed. Some sections felt a little pushed in terms of dramaturgy, but no graves are being dug. Lovat resides effortlessly as Frances Putlock throughout the one-hour performance and in the true nature of theatre we sometimes forget where we are.
The story is of an undertaker turning up at the wrong house. Rather than excusing himself, he decides to spend his time opening our minds a little. Lovat begins with a few light hearted remarks that garner several laughs before cracking into some of his more haphazard experiences in the duty of the dead. We hear of coffins being too small, the various objects people leave at grave stones and bickering partners finally finding peace, much of which we can relate to in some way. The show then takes a darker and downhearted turn when the character Putlock recollects some of his own past experiences, both at war and in the hospital, and it’s here that we are plunged into a world so richly painted that the stark set of nothing but a chair and a briefcase reveals true purpose. Indeed, the performance was designed to take place in living rooms, with Lovat turning up at the door in character.
The first few minutes felt a little awkward, pushing questions of quality into our minds from the get-go, but akin to life it’s worth seeing through, and as some may say, it only gets better. There’s an undercurrent of teachings here along the lines of ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.’ No one’s going to turn around and find themselves sitting in the next seat, but it’s stimulating stuff all the same. Lovat instils within us a sense of melancholy cheer, and never does it feel uncomfortable. If anything, we’re left with a sense of wellbeing, knowing that when it happens, it happens, and if we’re lucky then our disastrous funeral will leave loved ones laughing long after we’re gone.