Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Jack Rooke: Good Grief, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott
“One in every one people will die”, comedian Jack Rooke tells us at the beginning of this frank, funny and moving biographical show about how we deal, or don’t deal, with death.
Now in his early-20s, his father died when he was 15 and he’s been learning to live with this, and the deaths of others, ever since. Created with the help of his straight-talking 85-year-old nan, who he has interviewed on film, it’s a personal but never indulgent piece that looks at how we might best cope with one of life’s biggest challenges. But it’s also full of great jokes.
With his broad smile and warm personality, Jack is a delight to spend an hour with, cheerily but sensitively tackling the most painful of subjects and finding hope in them.
Accompanied by Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper’s coffin – filled with biscuits, sweets and lumps of Soreen, which he hands out at emotional moments – he amusingly captures the intent behind something that people often say when trying to comfort others: “Everything will be alright.”
If we feel a bit sad – or want to send a text – it’s fine to leave at any moment, Jack tells us: he’s not Jimmy Carr. But it’s a well-balanced show where emotional moments are offset by amusing observations on the strange ways people behave when faced with someone else’s tragedy.
Whether it’s neighbours baking copious amounts of lasagne, or funeral-goers treating Jack like Beyoncé when he steps out of the black car, it’s comedy anyone who’s ever dealt with a losing a loved one will recognise.
A generous show that can’t have been easy for Jack to make becomes a defiant memorial to those he’s lost, proving that while we can’t beat death, we can remember the ones we love in a way that celebrates their lives.
Underbelly Cowgate, until 30 August, 4pm / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 15 August 2015
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