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Good Grief at the Richmond Theatre

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 14th Oct 2012 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin


It is bereavement I have got, not a stroke.

Adapted by Keith Waterhouse from his own best-selling comic novel, Good Grief tells the story of June Pepper, widow of the editor of a tabloid newspaper, who discovers that bereavement is not what she had expected it to be. After going through all the various stages, she finds that it is possible to move on.

After barely surviving the memorial service for her late husband - with an organist who played the wrong tune and a speaker who seemed dyslexic until June found out he had forgotten his reading glasses, June is ready for another glass of vodka. She declines the sandwiches stepdaughter Pauline is preparing and orders her to get the vodka bottle from the bedroom where June is keeping it in reach in case she needs a swig. Vulnerable and angry due to her recent loss, June resents being treated like an invalid and makes her feelings known. June’s late husband Sam instructed her to keep a journal of her feelings to help her cope with the situation. June prefers a mental diary which she shares with the audience, mostly to comic effect. Pushed into a parallel universe by her traumatic experience, June has little patience for Pauline’s “minor” marital problems but she manages to fake interest - only we know the truth.

When June meets a man in a pub who is wearing Sam’s suit, she immediately projects her feelings for her dead husband onto him, secretly calling him “The Suit.” Because Dougie aka “The Suit” is skimp, she buys him drinks. Dougie seems nice and helpful and offers to repair her fridge door. June gladly accepts his kind offer. Meanwhile Sam’s former colleague, a smug and insensitive fellow, informs June that he has letters in his possession that Pauline wrote to her father when she was a child. He acts as if the letters were top secret and makes a big nuisance of himself. The situation escalates when Pauline moves in.

Penelope Keith is giving a tour-de-force performance in this very funny and, at the same time, very true depiction of grief. Aptly directed by Tom Littler, she gets splendid support from Jonathan Firth as the smug and undiplomatic Eric, Christopher Ravenscroft as the sweet and gentle Dougie and Flora Montgomery as the snooty and unhappy Pauline.

By Carolin Kopplin

Touring info:

 Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury»

Mon, 22nd October 2012 to Sat, 27th October 2012
  Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham»

Mon, 29th October 2012 to Sat, 3rd November 2012
  Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford»

Mon, 5th November 2012 to Sat, 10th November 2012
  Arts Theatre, Cambridge»

Mon, 12th November 2012 to Sat, 17th November 2012
  Malvern Theatres, Malvern»


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 5 years ago
    Thanks, Carolin. The skill of writers never ceases to amaze me. To be able to turn a subject like bereavement into entertainment is almost miraculous! Sounds like an excellent play.
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