A grandad may have passed on, but he wasn’t the only thing that died on stage. Toad Pit Theatre have committed murder with this lurid, self-indulgent drama and weak allegory on the outcome of the EU referendum. The boorish antics of the quartet gives birth to a tactless attempt at satirising the UK’s decision to leave the EU that indiscriminately derides Britain’s elderly population in the process. A good idea gone horribly wrong,
A condescending bunch of toffs trying to play divide and rule in proletariat politics whilst lording over the working class and elderly as though they have no common sense.
The play opens with Brian, a gloomy representation of the fearful Brexit campaign dressed in a potato sack, shredding newspapers and discussing the prospect of leaving with his companion Aaron; their destination and departure date is unclear. Conversely, their often mentioned adversary, the “people over the hill’, is an obvious metaphor for EU nationals. With the inclusion of further characters, the dialogue improves slightly – suggesting that these actors would do better in another production, preferably one which doesn’t roll as many gutter balls as this – but does little to repair the overall damage. Mary, the play’s voice of reason, arrives too late and too short to make any lasting impact. Indeed, her only role is to offer a botched derision of the media’s scaremongering in strikingly hypocritical fashion. Deriding popular news outlets, the drama tries to encourage the audience to think for themselves. But no matter which way you voted in the referendum, you won’t be impressed with the outcome of Henry Aspin’s hackneyed play.
All politics aside, it is fair to say that Grandad Died is not engaging enough to grace the Fringe. With its needless use of pauses, feeble script and tedious pace, the cast waste their 40 minutes on stage clowning around, inventing badly constructed social buzzword love letters as they attempt to tackle the state of modern society in a pretentious display of self-congratulation. The playis billed as absurdist comedy, but this merely masks their misemployment of an act which simultaneously wants to be a political satire and doesn’t. The coup de grace came in the form of a ballroom waltz around the stage to purvey the clichéd trope that two is better than one/that the UK needs its European partner, but this dance holds absolutely no relevance to the storyline whatsoever.
In its entirety, Grandad Died amounts to little more than a botched, ego-centric mess focused on director Henry Aspin. This is nothing other than a demonstration in unearned self-importance, a turgid display that attempts to lecture its audience with cheap, watered-down life experience whilst completely oblivious to its overinflated ego. The result sees the sophomoric theatre group arrive as nothing more than a condescending bunch of toffs trying to play divide and rule in proletariat politics whilst lording over the working class and elderly as though they have no common sense.