Don’t allow your instincts to guide you when deciding whether or not to see this one woman show about death and grief. Initially, the idea of an 85 minute play that centres on the murder of a beloved sister (BBC journalist Kate Peyton, who was killed in Somalia in 2005) may not fill you with optimism, but that is exactly how you feel on leaving the Finborough.
Rebecca Peyton, with co-writer Martin M Bartelt, has crafted the play superbly; her writing weaves together the immediate moments after receiving the news of her sister’s death alongside some of the more bizarre and bitter-sweet happenings in the months that followed.
The delicate balance of the play’s structure is what draws us into her distinctive style of storytelling. Peyton isn’t trying to be melodramatic - she doesn’t want the audience in floods of tears. Rather, she wants to convey the very real, often unexpected, emotions that people feel in reaction to the death of a loved one.
It can’t be denied that her performance raises questions about the treatment of journalists who work in some of the most dangerous places in the world; however, Peyton’s purpose for writing clearly isn’t to criticise the BBC.
More than this, her performance challenges the audience’s understanding of the grieving process. The darkly comic, observational humour that she conveys underscores her point that grieving doesn’t need to be muted and introspective.
This production received much praise during its time at the Edinburgh Fringe and throughout its tour last year, and with its current run selling out it looks set to extend the number of performances. The simplicity and candour of Sometimes I Laugh Like My Sister makes it not only a stirring celebration of a life lost, but a genuinely affecting piece of theatre.