Shaving the Dead starts with two undertakers waiting at a coffin. One (the welshman) very bluntly tells the other (the irishman) how he brained his own father with a rock. As they continue to wait, they share more twisted but intriguing stories and habits with each other. It’s like Godot: they’re forever waiting for the party to arrive. Shaving the Dead is wry, boils along slowly but is also strangely compulsive.
A well thought out depiction of a world made absurd
While I definitely enjoyed the comedy (which was dark and well done) what makes it a success is the strange, grotesque but sweet pair onstage. Alan McKee as Connor and Simon Nehan as Eurig are both very watchable, and the actors capture every detail of their relationship onstage. The script keeps us going with small revelations that piece together these two men and all of the subtleties in between them. McKee and Nehan were able to capture the humorous, absurd, and slightly surreal atmosphere brilliantly.
This is helped by the production itself. The set is minimalist and striking with a bright red curtain and a coffin between them, wisely focussing the attention on the two leads. I did feel some moments of the play (usually the ones set to music) came across as not just absurd but bizarre, overdone and a little bit off beat. Personally I enjoyed this as it added to the strange charm Shaving the Dead has, but it’s understandable that it isn’t for everyone.
I enjoyed the kind of comfort this pair had in each other. I enjoyed the constant suspense. The script was able to be funny but still take these characters seriously. Shaving the Dead is a well thought out depiction of a world made absurd by too close a proximity to death.