The stage of Tutu’s, on the 4th floor of the Macadam Building just off the Strand, overlooking the Thames, is set – chairs and tables are arranged to resemble the living spaces of an ordinary house. The show is a new comedy put on by King’s English Literary Society. An evening of family mayhem – an extended family gathering to mourn a recently deceased father – is about to begin.
Joe Fraser, a 3rd year English and Film student at King’s College London, spent a year writing this play on and off. He was interested in trying to make the switch between drama and comedy as seamless as possible. He says he wanted to create a play with a cast of characters that were equally important and on a similar moral standing.
He has achieved this goal, creating a story told by equally strong characters which contains many unexpected moments, from the reappearance of an old university boyfriend to an impromptu 80s dance routine.
The comedy’s self-awareness lends some particularly funny moments. One character speaks of something ‘giving [him] grief’, and in another moment the following unfolds: ‘We need to hide him!’ – ‘Where, the set is minimal?’
The audience’s enjoyment was doubtless down not just to the writing but also to some of the best performances. Sara Masud and Sam Flood delight as a highly sexually active (to the chagrin of their offspring) older couple. Jessica Little as the always-on edge Amber breaks out of her shell with some lovely French singing. Everyone talks over each other, exhibiting varying degrees of stress and taking the tension of a large family gathering to an extreme.
Grief: A Comedy! is a success, using the actors’ strengths to its advantage, indicating many changes of location through clever lighting cues and making the audience laugh through both verbal and physical comedy.
Grief: A Comedy! played at Tutu’s on 3rd and 4th March.