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Coffin Up

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Life is not good business for an undertaker in Britain's healthiest town. With the bills mounting up and the bailiffs banging on his funeral parlour's door, he takes mortality into his own skeletal hands, bumping off the locals and paying off his debtors.

Coffin Up is a delightful piece of black comedy. Presented by a cast of three in wonderfully expressive masks, The Village Idiots have crafted a witty, wry and fast paced piece of physical theatre which tugs at the heart strings as quickly severs them.

What opens as a black comedy, macabre and vicious, descends into gleeful slapstick. The spider-like undertaker, all arched shoulders and spindly limbs, becomes less a force of malevolence and more a figure of foolish oafishness. Whilst the loss of this darkness is regrettable, the narrative drive remains strong, colouring this black world with nuanced character developments and delicious displays of perfect comic timing.

The real joy of the piece is its playful and surprising use of its clever set and music. With little more than a doorway, a background of brickwork like broken churches and a transfiguring coffin, the cast of three create a well-rounded cartoon world, soundtracked with Air on a G String, selections from Danny Elfman and Queen.

Who knew that funerals could be so much fun?


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