The premise of Gillian Cosgriff's show Actually, Good is both simple and elegant, revolving around celebrating life's small pleasures. It rolls into the Edinburgh Fringe with some pedigree, having garnered both critical acclaim and the top award at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. But how will a relentlessly upbeat antipodean show fare in the land of the proudly dour, where even the height of summer is typified by pishing rain? The answer is pretty well, even if the cynical might feel a bit worn down by the wave of good vibes.
A noble attempt at turning a simple idea into a joyous, life-affirming show
The show is structured around an interactive game, inviting the audience to rank ten things they 'like', and these responses are diligently recorded in Cosgriff's Book of Good. These audience contributions add a unique touch to the performance, creating lists filled with everyday delights, even if that delightfulness does occasionally feel a little forced.
When it comes to the music in the show, Cosgriff is a talented performer with solid chops, easy-going confidence, and a palpable positivity that is largely infectious. Songs like Passport in The Chaos Drawer showcase her lyrical dexterity, and her ability to build on audiences’ ideas adds a richer texture to the show. Her ad-lib skills are commendable, and she possesses strong musicality and presence that often fills the room with charming effervescence.
Perhaps the most significant strength of Actually, Good lies in its balanced approach to life. While the show is essentially a celebration, it doesn't shy away from darker undercurrents. It acknowledges that with good, there is always bad, and with life, there is always death. This sobering truth adds a bit of emotional heft to the proceedings, providing a refreshing counterpoint to the other, rather sweeter feeling which pervades the show.
In the end, Actually, Good is a noble attempt at turning a simple idea into a joyous, life-affirming show. Its celebration of the mundane and its emphasis on living in the now are commendable. However, it doesn't fully succeed in translating this bright premise into a universally engaging experience. Some may find themselves wholly captivated by the uplifting nature of Cosgriff's performance, while others might feel a tad disconnected from its uncompromisingly cheery tone. A triumph in parts, Actually, Good still leaves room for something more substantial to emerge from its warm, feel-good core.