Keith Waterhouse’s Good Grief can best be described as a classic British sitcom. June (Penelope Keith) keeps her vodka on the bedside and her brandy in the cupboard.
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She promised her late husband that she would keep a diary, detailing her bereavement, which she decides to do “in her head” and out to the audience. When June spots her late husband’s suit on another man, her curiosity gets the better of her, and she starts on a humorous and enlightening journey of recovery and discovery
Famous for her roles in The Good Life and To A Manor Born, Penelope Keith delivers a heartfelt performance as June. The BAFTA award- winning actress carries the show from top to toe, contrasting the raucously funny moments with the poignant.
Innuendo and double entendre account for much of the comedy along with the dialogue, the diary entries that are spoken directly to the audience and June’s deceased husband. She builds a rapport with the audience, drawing them into her life, her situation and her booze-fuelled, grief-ridden point of view.
Keith is supported by a strong cast and a versatile set that allows June to travel effortlessly between her living room, and the local pub. June is as comfortable in her home as Penelope is on stage.
Scenes are punctuated by an eclectic soundtrack that includes George Michael and The Beautiful South, among other 90s classics.
Waterhouse’s script is charming, light entertainment brought to life by director Tom Littler’s naturalistic and simplistic staging. The story is full of intrigue and suspense that builds up to an unexpected twist.
Good Grief makes for an entertaining night: the production is easy to watch and mildly engrossing. The subject of bereavement is delicately handled, but without being indulgent. Everyone processes grief differently, and June’s almost bizarre story testifies to that. Relief and hope can be found in the most obscure places – in a large brandy, a holiday, a friend, or – as Good Grief shows – even a night in the theatre.
Run ends October 6