The 900 Club
Scottish Poetry Library – Mezzanine Level
Aug 6th to 12th
***** 5 Stars
Death on the Fringe is a series of events which explore themes of death and dying at this year’s Fringe. It is run by Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief, which is a group of organisations campaigning to promote openness around bereavement, grief and loss, in order to better equip people to support each other through such experiences. The 900 Club is a thoughtful and honest piece about this topic by In The Works, a young Glasgow-based company committed to producing diverse, accessible and innovative spoken word theatre.
This show is not for the faint-hearted, but it is for the big-hearted. It tells the story of four friends reuniting again, five years after the untimely loss of their mutual and much-loved friend. The setting is relatable – a Megabus from Glasgow to Edinburgh, en-route to a previously annual camping trip. Within their stories, reminisces and difficult conversations, multiple and conflicting patterns of sadness, hope and triumph over adversity take turns emerging from the back row, with the unique stylings of each poet lending individual voices to various forms of grief.
Ellen Renton is the stand-out for me; her pace, tone and obvious talent for arranging words combines excellently here, reflecting the simple yet stunning backdrop of the Scottish Poetry Library mezzanine. Ross, Bibi and Shannon bring additional distinguished performances to the poetry table, in the form of quick-fire musical rap, sober and kind insight, and anxious yet reflective musings, respectively.
The show revolves around the absent character Noah, who begins as a mute topic for heartbreak and debate, but by the end has grown into a complex character in his own right. Every character presented is unambiguously real though – we have all met someone like Mac, the reformed wreck-head. The most thought-provoking relationship occurs between Emily and Fi – the former girlfriend of the deceased, and a close friend who has a secret to tell.
There are moments where the narrative is somewhat swept away by the speed of delivery, which is a shame because I want to hear every word of their carefully crafted story. However, this does not diminish the fact that this contemporary perspective on mental health and supporting one another through crises does not shy away from the reality of human failings and foibles, nor our capacity to love each other despite them.
Review by Joanne Harrison