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Review - these words that’ll linger like ghosts till the day i drop down dead - Pleasance Theatre

Rated 🍯🍯🍯🍯

A man and a woman look at each other. The man is holding a book that looks like the play's script. The woman appears worried as the man talks to her. There is a floating astronaut in the background.
Production image of these words that’ll linger like ghosts till the day I drop down dead.

From the very first moments, these words that’ll linger like ghosts till the day I drop down dead presents itself as a captivatingly sorrowful journey, a heartrending exploration of grief, loss, and regret. The play unfolds at the Pleasance Theatre, which, like a crucible, magnifies the characters' emotional state with its intimate setting.

Through the fog of remorse and denial, the audience is introduced to the complex, multi-layered narrative centred around the relationship between a female protagonist and her brother. She is a tormented figure, a woman haunted by a past decision(s?) - something she did, or perhaps failed to do. The actuality of her misstep is shrouded in mystery till the final act (and even then it isn't entirely revealed), but the essence of the story isn't so much about what she did but how she handles it.

Her efforts to rewrite history, at least within the confines of her mind, make for some of the most poignant scenes in the play. This escapism, however, serves more as a commentary on our collective desire to rectify the past rather than as a workable solution for the protagonist. Her journey seems to underscore the impossibility of truly running away from our actions.

The strength of the play lies in its profoundly human approach to grief and guilt. The audience is drawn into a deeply empathetic experience, traversing the fraught landscapes of betrayal, denial, and the ensuing search for absolution. As the story unravels, the contours of the protagonist’s guilt begin to emerge, and her attempts at mental revisionism, while temporarily providing solace, ultimately prove fruitless.

Indeed, the conclusion of the play delivers a powerful blow as it highlights the futility of such mental gymnastics. The protagonist's realization that only acceptance can bring closure is a poignant, and possibly cathartic, end to her agonizing journey.

The evocative script, coupled with masterful performances, offers a profound meditation on the themes of grief, remorse, and the human capacity for resilience. The play manages to tread the line between being evocative without veering into melodrama, a testament to the strength of its writing and direction.

What a moving piece of theatre. The intricacies of human guilt and the struggle for acceptance in the face of regret will leave you in contemplative silence long after the curtain falls, its haunting echo reverberating in your mind. It's a play that lingers, much like the ghosts of its title, serving as a poignant reminder of our own fallibility and the redemptive power of acceptance.

Four stars.

Watched June 2023 at the Pleasance Theatre, London.

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