Note: This review is from the 2015 Fringe

@ The Stand, Edinburgh, until Sun 30 Aug 2015 @ 14:30

The figure Elaine Malcolmson cuts is that of a morbid Clare Grogan with all of the joy drained out. The arrangements of which the title speaks are funeral ones. This combination makes for a bleak show, but pleasingly so.

Malcolmson reads a short story. Eventually it transpires why, but for now we’re just invited to “see what we think at the end”; a little more pretext, without giving the game away, might have been useful. The story involves sundry twists on a theme of familial death – burial plots, flowers, cremations, funeral wear – deliberately never letting us understand too much of the characters and storyline. It’s a jumping off point (no suicide pun intended) for Malcolmson’s clever and twisted musings on related topics. She wonders about last meals, efficient cemetery organisation, and the best way to be disposed of.

With that premise, it’s easy to see why the crowd in Stand 4 is thin, but what she’s doing here is intelligent and original. It’s fairly cerebral; some of her leaps out of the main story are particularly imaginative. But although she’s well received today, it could use a larger audience’s reaction to play off. Otherwise, with her Northern Irish monotone as a factor, the show doesn’t have the dynamic that the excellent writing deserves.