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Review: ‘You think your family has issues? Try spending a night with the McAllisters’

The stage of Tutu’s is set – chairs and tables are arranged to resemble the living spaces of an ordinary house. The show is a new comedy put on by King’s English Literary Society. An evening of family mayhem – an extended family gathering to mourn a recently deceased father – is about to begin.

Photo credit: Liz Isles

Joe Fraser, a 3rd year English and Film student, spent a year writing this play on and off. He was interested in trying to make the switch between drama and comedy as seamless as possible. He says he wanted to create a play with a cast of characters that were equally important and on a similar moral standing.

Photo credit: Liz Isles

He has achieved this goal, creating a story told by equally strong characters which contains many unexpected moments, from the reappearance of an old university boyfriend to an impromptu 80s dance routine.

The comedy’s self-awareness lends some particularly funny moments. One character speaks of something ‘giving [him] grief’, and in another moment the following unfolds: ‘We need to hide him!’ – ‘Where, the set is minimal?’

Photo credit: Liz Isles

The audience’s enjoyment was doubtless down not just to the writing but also to some of the best performances. Sara Masud and Sam Flood delight as a highly sexually active (to the chagrin of their offspring) older couple. Jessica Little as the always-on edge Amber breaks out of her shell with some lovely French singing. Everyone talks over each other, exhibiting varying degrees of stress and taking the tension of a large family gathering to an extreme.

Grief: A Comedy! was a success, using the actors’ strengths to its advantage, indicating many changes of location through clever lighting cues and making the audience laugh through both verbal and physical comedy.

Grief: A Comedy! played at Tutu’s (Strand) on 3rd and 4th March.

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