Most of our reviews are re-printed with kind permission of the Knutsford Guardian

knutsford Little Theatre

Good Grief

Another gem from Knutsford Little Theatre, which grabs ones attention from the very first scene: Good Grief, by Keith Waterhouse tells the story of June as she comes to terms with life after the premature death of her husband, Sam.

This is the proverbial “peach of a part” for actress Jacky Slator and her superb rendition of the down-to-earth; say-it-as-it-is widow, verbally recording a running conversation with her late husband, is reminiscent of one of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads.

Jacky is ably supported by other members of the cast: Ali Hulford, appearing and sounding as you have never experienced her before, portrays June’s gum-chewing stepdaughter, Pauline, who is convinced that June needs “looking after”; whilst David Muncaster swaps his playwriting hat for one of actor as “The Suit”. Could this lonely person be God’s gift to single women: a handyman? Perhaps not.

Both these characters may have agendas of their own which June must eventually recognise and find the courage and strength to deal with. Even the “snoopy, foxy” Eric seems to have rather questionable intentions and Bob Jennings adopts a great Brummie accent in his portrayal of Sam’s ex colleague.

Directed by Tina Buckley, the production has a distinct family involvement, with Miles Buckley in charge of both lighting and (deliberately minimal) set design, whilst 12 year old Olivia Buckley has a touching cameo role as the young Pauline.

Good Grief will strike chords with so many people as the empathetic, wryly humorous portrayal unfolds: the “Just the one?” syndrome and the attempted humiliation by the manager in the restaurant where June has the temerity to enter alone; the “little” problems that can seem huge: the compost heap, the lawn, the insurance details; the inevitable volunteering work; June’s potential refuge in drink, are all perfectly captured.

Keith Waterhouse’s writing never fails to amaze. There is so much to relate to in this play, from a couple of “sharp intake of breath” moments, to raise the ire in any feminist, to the clichéd epithets of well meaning sympathisers and the description of the stereotypical nature of the memorial service, Frank Sinatra included. Yet despite the nature of the topic, this play is never morbid, and laughter will abound. Waterhouse’s remarkable insights into the resilience of the human condition leaves one uplifted by the knowledge that June is indeed a strong woman with courage to move forward. Definitely, definitely an evening not to be missed.