A new play about two friends dealing with the death of another, Good Grief by Lorien Haynes is the second production from Platform Presents, following on from Zoom experimental reading A Separate Peace last year.
It is a sensitive, romantic comedy where the two characters (played by Sian Clifford and Nikesh Patel) navigate that tricky path of desolation, struggling with their complex emotions.
Directed by Natalie Abrahami (I previously reviewed her Happy Days at the Young Vic), this is staged in an intimate way, while looking at the lighter side of love and loss. It displays great power and restraint while engaging in naturalistic dialogue and strong characterisations.
There are moments of levity (“we always donated her clothes to Mary’s Living and Giving”) although this pair are clearly dealing with the aching void left by the dead woman we never see.
In between scenes and time changes we see the crew stage-dressing, as you would in a live performance, but at speed. It’s a bold step: saying that this is theatre, and the locations are fake.
It is all artifice, and this is the same as being in a venue, except you’ve probably got your feet up at home, stopping and starting for cups of tea and trips to the loo. No matter, as there is enough here to keep your interest and hold you to your screen.
Good Grief has moments which are coldly powerful: a letter from the beyond (“come and visit me in the ground and tell me what’s going on”), a grotty hotel room and a decision that shouldn’t have been made.
Patel is exceptionally good as the partner of the woman whose presence lingers in every corner. Clifford is brittle, as if one wrong word will break her spirit and chafe away any pretence that she has ceased to care.
With music by Isobel Waller-Bridge adding sympathetic colour to the proceedings, this is an effective play, of forgiveness, acceptance, and charm. It keeps things simple, setting flashy locations aside, with captions giving you a feel of where we are. Instead Good Grief focuses on human touch, of memories, of moments which make you smile.
You can book to watch Good Grief at https://originaltheatreonline.com/productions/13/good-grief. A ticket will give you access to watch as many times as you like from 7.30pm on 15 February to 11.55pm on 15 April. Concession and special purchase options are available.
Image credit: Platform Presents/Finite Films
LouReviews received complimentary access to review Good Grief.