Pros: Jack being Jack. Honest, hilarious, endearing, engaging Jack.
Cons: No cons. I’m dead serious.
Have you ever lost someone who was close to you? A grandparent, perhaps – or even a parent? How did you grieve, and how did people’s behaviour towards you change? These questions are the subject of Jack Rooke’s heart wrenching, beautiful and very funny one man show Good Grief, which is running at the Soho Theatre. It should be obligatory viewing for anyone who has or will lose a loved one at some point in their lives. In other words, all of us. Jack lost his dad when he was 15, and he explores how he dealt with his loss and bereavement through a supremely clever and engaging mix of storytelling, stand-up comedy and film footage.
At the heart of the show is Jack’s belief that we should all talk more about death, loss and pain to avoid the isolation of bereaved people, and he makes a brilliant start. Having provided his audience with plenty of laughs and comfort food, he tells us about how he felt after his father’s death. He describes how neighbours brought the family more lasagne then they could eat, how teachers provided him with a ‘get out of class’ card in case he felt sad and how fellow schoolmates, lost for words, tried to avoid him. A show about personal loss could become a cry for sympathy, but Jack avoids any self-pitying pitfalls and creates a show that feels individually important.
Jack brings his witty and mischievous 85-year-old nan on tour, whose sense of humour and wisdom are immortalised in a touching home video. A tiny woman compared to Jack’s large frame, she is the star of the show, describing how the silence of her husband made her suffering even more acute.
I’m not sure how he did it, but Jack’s show feels less like a performance and more like a friendly and intimate chat. Jack’s endearing, genuine and warm personality certainly helps – and his unflinching honesty and ability to make one laugh make this a truly brilliant show. Not to be missed.
Author: Jack Rooke
Director: Gabriel Bisset-Smith
Producer: Francesca Moody
Box Office: 020 7478 0100
Booking Link: http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/jack-rooke-good-grief/
Booking Until: 9 April 2016