Good Grief

Good Grief
By Keith Waterhouse. Centenary Theatre Group. Director: Cam Castles. Chelmer Community Centre, Chelmer, Qld. 9-30 September 2017

Grief is something we all encounter and all deal with in our own way. June Pepper, the protagonist in Keith Waterhouse’s play Good Grief, based on his comic novel of the same name, finds that swigging a bottle of vodka and eating mint Aero chocolate helps her through the pain of losing her tabloid-editor husband Sam. In fact his instruction to her following his death was for her to write a daily diary which takes the form of direct monologues to the audience.

 

Moving on with her life is slow, but it’s done with wit, comic resourcefulness, and a touch of poignancy. Donating Sam’s clothes to the local op-shop brings closure of sorts but when she sees one of his favourite suits worn by a stranger she is drawn to him. Their meeting at the local pub forms the basis of a friendship that almost becomes something more, whilst her stepdaughter’s letters to her father when she was a child provide the denouement of the play.

Never off-stage, everything revolves around the character of June, and Selina Kadell not only brings stamina to the role, but a down-to-earth realism as she puts a comedic spin on events in her life. It’s a performance of warmth, compassion and truth.

Guy Smith was an ingratiating foil as “The Suit”, who came across as a lovable suburban con-man. Simone-Marie Dixon found some empathy in the step-daughter Pauline, which was not always evident in the writing. As man-from-the-office, Eric, Paul McGibbon was smooth slicked-back hair slimy, with Liam Castles unobtrusive as the non-speaking barman.

The effective set, all variations on a B&W theme, had added character with a wall-screen that showed a collage of words taken from the script for each scene change underscored with various music grabs that included “My Way” and “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word”.

Not Waterhouse’s best play by any means but it is a pleasant night in the theatre which finds director Cam Castles mixing the emotional and comedic content with skill.

Peter Pinne                 

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