Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Theatre review: The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle

The second Irish play in a row for me, although this one originated for an Irish audience rather than an American one. The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle by Ross Dungan sees a young ensemble of eight actors employ a storytelling style to follow the titular small-town man, soon after his premature death in his fifties in a car accident. As Eric's 1am funeral is attended by just two people, and a woman from his past babysits her nephew, a young woman who's never heard of Eric receives several thousand letters from him in the mail. The deceased himself is spending the night in some kind of court of the dead, where events from his life are played out in the hope of reaching judgement on some critically important, but mysterious matter that will play out by morning.

Dan Herd's production is one that improves as it goes on. Its opening, underscored by guitar music and grinning cast members, seems to set things up for an unbearably twee evening, but mercifully this proves to be just a prologue. The narration soon becomes much less frequent while characters get a chance to develop and a story to be told.

The play is amiably performed by the cast and there's a satisfying shape to the way the story's different strands come together. The fact that I'm struggling to find much to say about the show is probably mainly because there's not a lot that's new in its story of looking back at a life of regrets and missed opportunities, but it's entertainingly enough done and has a heart to it that becomes more apparent as the action unfolds.

The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle by Ross Dungan is booking until the 20th of April at Soho Theatre Upstairs.

Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes straight through.

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