Review: Good Grief

Good Grief, Cambridge Arts Theatre until November 10

Penelope Keith is on absolutely superb form as the recently widowed June Pepper in Keith Waterhouse’s play Good Grief.

Alone after 25 years of marriage to her Fleet Street editor husband Sam, June keeps a diary of her widowhood enabling her to reveal her thoughts to the audience as she struggles to come to terms with loss and learns to live again.

Full of humour and pathos and clever observation, this is a high quality and extremely enjoyable production.

The action takes place in June’s well appointed and spacious home which, thanks to seemingly glitch-free set design, quickly doubles as nearby pub the Duke of Clarence where June develops her new friendship with Douggie aka The Suit.

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A stimulating play, the story explores life after the death of a partner touching on subjects as diverse as sorting out the house insurance to sex.

Christopher Ravenscroft is entertaining as The Suit, delivering a delightfully subtle performance as June’s new chum. Meanwhile Jonathan Firth brings a touch of malevolence as the Machiavellian Eric.

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June and stepdaughter Pauline, played with aplomb by Flora Montgomery, reassess their relationship as the story reveals the less likeable characteristics of Sam as the tributes and platitudes fade away.

Directed by Tim Littler, there isn’t a weak link nor a foot put wrong. The acting is assured throughout and the pace, carried along by Keith’s remarkable skills, never falters .

This is a truly enjoyable evening that leaves the audience in no doubt of the huge stage talent of one of Britain’s favourite actresses.

James Marston

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