Studio – The Vaults
Reviewed – 29th January 2020
“The show’s concept and originality cannot be faulted, the performances of the two Rosies consistently and bracingly daft”
It seems bad form to take comedy too seriously and the sillier the comedy, the sillier it may appear to dwell on seemingly trivial matters, like Facebook posts being rendered unreadable due to their projection onto the deep folds of curtains. But these were probably good lines, possibly vital to understanding the ornate ending of this funny, often brilliant, obscurely named, occasionally puzzling, two-woman, possibly three-woman, show.
The idea of using a funeral service as a device to tell a person’s story is promising. Performers Rosie Abrahams and Rosie Frecker (using their own names as character names) showcase an array of characters, each of whom takes it in turns to remember the life of Sarah M Anson who died in a bizarre incident in a cave. Anson, too, exists in real life as part of a co-writing team with Máirín O’Hagan as Queynte Laydies. O’Hagan is the originator of this particular piece having not only been credited with a version as far back as 2015 but before that having written a similarly themed and even more delightful sounding work, ‘Bereavement. The Musical.’ This rendition is probably adapted for VAULT Festival to suit the copious comedic and vocal talents of its two stars.
Rosie and Rosie begin proceedings dressed in black as the two half-sisters of the deceased and each other, born on the same day to different mothers, impregnated around 25 minutes apart by Darren, a father absent from his daughter’s funeral due to a previous engagement at a christening.
This sets the scene for the further unravelling of Sarah’s tragic backstory, first by a manically upbeat Reverend Ro Hooley, an inappropriately high-energy Aussie priest, then by Simon, Sarah’s droning upper-class ex, both the creations of Rosie Abraham, who brings a West End gusto to all her characterisations. Rosie Frecker’s characters are slightly more modulated. One, a frustrated, flouncy female pastor speaks as Simon’s mother and is particularly well realised. Others include a 4-year-old recorder player, a church hanger on and toward the end, a surgeon with some important revelations that seem hurriedly devised to extricate the plot from its predicament.
The show’s concept and originality cannot be faulted, the performances of the two Rosies consistently and bracingly daft. There are outstanding moments in the writing, but they are betrayed by a rushed production and a few self-inflicted wounds. In concocting a complex story, the creatives seem to get side-tracked by their own running jokes and the enterprise ends in a bit of a squidgy mess. However, it’s a good-natured mess, and from what we can tell, it’s what Sarah would have wanted.
Reviewed by Dominic Gettins