So It Goes

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): So It Goes at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61). Review by Susan Mansfield

Hannah Moss found it hard to talk about her grief at the death of her dad from cancer when she was 17. Now performing her own show about her experience seven years on, she takes that difficulty in communication and turns it into a strength.

There is almost no talking in So It Goes, performed by Hannah (as herself) and Lecoq-trained David Ralfe (as all the other characters). Words are written on whiteboards worn around the characters’ necks, and appear on hand-crafted signs and flipcards, but mostly these serve to illustrate how inadequate words are when set against the enormity of what is being experienced.

The whiteboards, which accommodate only a few words at a time, have the effect of reducing speech to its starkest minimum – “Your dad died”, “Can we talk?” – and leaving the silences in between to speak of the way that shock robs us of words, and grief distances us from one another. The moment of the terminal diagnosis is particularly poignant.

As well as some beautiful hand-made backdrops, So It Goes has many of the hallmarks of Lecoq-influenced theatre: running around to Charlie Chaplinesque piano music, inventive use of cutesy props, and a lot of smiling, which might at times seem at odds with the sadness of the material.

But the show is also a tribute to a man who lived, the keen runner who read philosophy books and danced, embarrassingly, to Shania Twain songs. Is it sentimental? Yes. But, honest, heartfelt and moving. And, in a near perfect marriage of form and subject, it is also a powerful expression of what happens in those moments when words fail us.

Until 24 August. Today 5:30pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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