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Have I No Mouth (Edinburgh Fringe)

This Traverse show from Brokentalkers explores the changing nature of the relationship between director Feidlim Cannon and his mother, Ann, in the aftermath of tragedy

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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This gruesomely raw and personal account of love, death, loss and therapy from Irish company Brokentalkers is a very good example of how not to convert real life tragedy into its theatrical counterpart. Eugene O'Neill it's not, by a long chalk.

Feidlim Cannon's father died, unnecessarily, 12 years ago and, through his grief and anger, and a series of primitive theatrical devices, he explores his own bereavement with that of his mother, Ann, who also appears, palpably not a real actress, or giving a good impression of not being one.

There's also an irritating, softly intoned psychotherapist who morphs into the dead, bandaged father like some creature from a Mummy's tomb; a small cardboard coffin of a younger dead brother; and a cardboard cut-out of Feidlim and his one-dimensional sibling.

A legal battle took its inevitable toll and used up nearly all Feidlim's anger, so we help him out by blowing crossly into the balloons we've been handed as we came in (no party hats or whistles). We all have to learn how death is part of life, and to prove it, the show finally unleashes a barrage of balloons, all full of anger, presumably, into the small second Traverse space. It's a memorable coup that hasn't really been earned by the performance itself, which is by turns tedious and too exploitative by half.

Have I No Mouth continues at the Traverse until 25 August