Good Grief tells the story of a family who are moving through the motions of grief and bereavement after the loss of their youngest son in an accident at Saltdean Lido. As they tell us about how they spent long and boring summer days at the Lido instead of going on exotic holidays, we get to know a family who are not sure what to do with their sudden and tragic loss. They don't know how to deal with the sympathy cards from neighbours they've never met, the school tributes and commemorative plaques, or the memories of the fateful day itself, even years after the fact.
A small and poignant story that is bound to stay with the audience
The story shows a mother, played with warmth by director of the piece Sue Goble, trying to shelter her children from the tragedy and reality of the death of their younger brother. Different ways of coping are gently analysed in-between anecdotes of childhood.
Performing to a full house, the cast of three presented an intimate study of the family, structured around a trio of conflicting accounts of the day the youngest child of the family died, and an anniversary lunch. The script, written by award-winning author Edwin Preece, steered clear of descending into a dark delve into the depths of grief, peppering the dialogue with light-hearted jokes and familial banter, making for an accessible text overall.
For a play tackling such a huge subject in one hour, Preece's script was a deft exploration of grief and loss, and the character's continual re-remembering of events as they grappled with placing guilt and responsibility for their loss was well communicated through the dialogue, in a sensitive and relatable way.
Although at times a little stilted, Sam Standen, Gigi Liley, and Sue Goble were always engaging, a feat for a script that was extremely detailed in its anecdotes. The script was paced around revealing small but significant details to feed the emotional progression of the characters in a slow but timely manner.
The play concluded with an ending that left you wanting more, while at the same time it left you feeling uplifted and more at peace with a difficult part of life we will all go through. I couldn't help but think that a site-specific performance of Good Grief at Saltdean Lido itself would make for a particularly special and poignant experience. It is a small and poignant story that is bound to stay with the audience for a good while after the performance.
Good Grief also works hard to enlighten and educate people about the grieving process outside of the theatre, with a collection for children's bereavement charity Grief Encounter taking place to help provide free, confidential advice and support for young people and children living through a bereavement.