Theatre review: Shaving the Dead, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

Imagine a short, super-witty version of Waiting For Godot, in which the two men waiting for a third party who never quite appears are most definitely a Welshman and a Northern Irishman, and the centre of the stage is occupied not by a withered tree but by a coffin and you’ll begin to have some idea of the wit and wisdom of Owen O’Neill’s new 70-minute play Shaving The Dead, a pitch-perfect study of two middle-aged men on the edge of eternity – or maybe, for all they know, already plunged into it.

Shaving The Dead, Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17)

Shaving the Dead, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh * * * *

Connor and Eurig are a pair of lugubrious undertakers who have worked together for more than a decade, and are used to waiting around together, in this case for the arrival of the man who commissioned them to pick up the coffin in question. Their banter therefore involves a wonderful combination of familiarity, revelation and invention, as they indulge in the odd silence, then continue their chat, about everything from Eurig’s relationship with his ex-wife to the value of a good mint humbug. The play also boasts a bit of a story, with a pretty powerful revelation about halfway through. However, the main purpose of the plot-twist is to give the conversation a new turn, exploring how the two men might cope with the possibility of real change.

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