In Memory

Gresham’s is a private school in Norfolk which has been in existence for well over four hundred years, with notable alumni including WH Auden and Benjamin Britten. For most of the last fifteen years it has been bringing productions to Edinburgh. Perhaps surprisingly for such an old-established institution, these productions are almost invariably newly-written and challenging.In Memory was written and directed by a teacher at the school whose father was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2008 from which he died in June 2009 and is about the effects of those eight months on his family, particularly his daughter Victoria.The play opens with Victoria having a missed call from her mother. She returns the call and is shocked to hear the news that her father has a brain tumour. Her friends and colleagues don’t know how to react; some are sympathetic, some are uncaring while others think that it’s all exaggerated and that he probably isn’t really that ill at all. From there we are taken thorough diagnosis and prognosis, a bewildering process for non-medical practitioners having suddenly to learn about the different types of cancer and their treatments. There is a nightmare sense of unreality about what is happening.Victoria is upset, or perhaps angry, at the responses of other people. The hospital consultant tries be caring but Victoria’s father is one patient among many and the doctor’s seen it all before. Her friends don’t know how to react; should they behave normally and pretend that everything’s going to be OK? Should they keep away or provide a shoulder to cry on? Why is serious illness so awkward and embarrassing? Behind her anger at other people is, of course, the real question, why is this happening to me?Ultimately, after her father’s death, Victoria comes to realise that she has a great deal for which to be thankful. Her father had a wonderful life for which he had no regrets and he was a wonderful father to her. As well as mourning his death, she should also celebrate his life.The production works well. Apart from one girl who plays Victoria, the rest of the cast have no fixed parts but move around the stage, taking different roles as appropriate, co-workers, friends and family or health service employees. The setting is appropriately sombre – the stage is dark with no props apart from short pillars which used for as seats or for standing on and all the cast wear black. Well worth seeing.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

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The Blurb

Gresham's return to the Fringe for their 15th year with this heartbreaking ensemble piece exploring innocence of youth, and the pain resulting from a parent's death. An emotionally charged yet uplifting performance delivered by a brilliant young cast.

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