Entering the Traverse, we’re greeted by sombre funeral-home-piped music as we file respectfully past a closed coffin resting on its bier. Eulogy opens with an emphatic nod to the dry banter of Scottish variety theatre monologuists like Benny Young, who begins the funerary proceedings. In the role of Reverend Andy Munro – performed in a style not unlike Rikki Fulton’s Reverand IM Jolly – he addresses us mourners to celebrate the life of a dearly departed. It does not seem coincidental that when the departed Sandy Munro appears in a video message to his own funeral guests he is depicted holding a copy of Chic Murray’s biography, another nod to a late prominent Scottish comedian.
Benny Young’s low-key portrayal of the genial parson is subtle and well-rounded, hinting at a darkness behind the ministerial smile and well above the average comic vicars of television sit-coms. Yet even an actor of his subtly struggles with the length of time he is left alone onstage: it takes the arrival of the caustic Joyce Falconer as Anne, Sandy’s estranged wife, to really bring the play to life. Sparks fly between the two as more and more plot twists and revelations surface and brother and wife wrestle for control of the eulogy. As the story develops, the humour becomes darker and deliciously barbed, with the play beginning to resemble black comedy classics like Thomas Vinterberg’s 1998 film, Festen, but sadly not delivering.
There is potential here for a sharp and biting tragicomedy but Rob Drummond’s script takes an abrupt body swerve and veers away into a rather uninspired conclusion. This is a great shame, for he obviously has the talent and verbal skills to establish himself as a Scottish Joe Orton if he so chooses. However, it would seem that your grumpy reviewer is in a minority of one, as the regular A Play, A Pie And A Pint audience member seems well pleased with the fare on offer (and far be it from this reviewer to interfere with a winning formula).
NB: Due to the restrictions of a low-carb diet the aforementioned pie and pint were not sampled, but appeared to be well enjoyed by all.