Review by Tatum Stafford
The stage was stark when we entered theSpace@Niddry St’s Studio – and actor Karen Tsui sat on a chair, nervously glancing at us as we sat down.
Over the next 45 minutes, we heard the story of Karen and her friend, who is tall, smokes cigarettes, and wears his trademark flip flops. When her friend ghosted her and started hanging out with their mutual friend instead of her, she decides she is going to invite him to his own funeral, where he’ll have the chance to sit in a coffin, be transported to a crematorium, and escape at the last minute.
This is a solo piece of theatre, and Karen was a very engaging performer. She utilised different levels, and a great deal of physical choreography, which created some very interesting visuals throughout (kudos to movement coach Wong Ting Pong, the coffin escape sequence was a particular highlight).
The story was easy to follow, but perhaps could have gone a little more in-depth when it came to the characters’ relationships and conversations with one another (no easy feat in a one-person show, but a way to deepen the plot nonetheless).
Its humorous moments were clear highlights, including a section when Karen is on hold and hears a monotonous version of “Greensleeves” on the line. It would have been great to have a few more of these comedic beats, to give audiences a breather between plot points.
Karen co-wrote the show with Cathy Sk Lam, who also served as director and producer. Cathy has done a great job finding loud and quiet moments throughout the piece, and using every inch of the stage to ensure the audience felt included on all three sides. Coelacanth composed the music, which was wistful and set an atmospheric mood throughout the piece.
At the end of the show, Karen told us that this was her first performance outside of Hong Kong, and her first performance in English. Edinburgh Fringe offers stages to performers from all across the globe across hundreds of venues, and I felt very lucky to catch such a unique performance from a Fringe debut performer. Well done to Karen and her team!