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Deck The Stalls
Photo credit @ Laura Martin

Guest Post: Lydia Brickland on ‘grief through theatre’ in Deck The Stalls

As a part of the Wandsworth New Writing Festival Author Lydia Brickland brings Deck The Stalls to The Arches at St. Mary’s in Putney. In this guest post, Lydia talks about looking at grief through theatre and navigating through grief… and a mad office party!

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that we all die. The only two things that truly unite all of us are; that we live and that we die. So why are we so uncomfortable talking about death? 

Well, firstly and most obviously it’s pretty fucking sad – loss and grief is heart wrenchingly painful. However at the pit of that heartbreak is love – a pure, pure love that makes the pain of losing a loved one exactly what is so painful. Grief is mad and that’s because love is mad. Grief is forever but the pain of grief isn’t forever. I’m not saying it won’t hurt or sting from time to time, but we do move with it through time. I’m sorry for the cliche but time really is a healer. 

In Deck The Stalls we meet Serena who is in the pits of grief and this is her first Christmas without her dad. I wanted to write about this loss in a theatrical capacity because I wasn’t seeing anyone talk about grief through theatre. I saw a lot of theatre’s put on pantos but what about those of us who find Christmas a tough old time, what do we do? What can we go and see? 

Thus I wrote Deck The Stalls in amongst all of the grief – the play is really fucking funny. I wanted it to be – because when I think back to the darker times in my life they’ve always been met with laughter and love. Serena is trying to navigate her mad office Christmas party and this party quickly descends into chaos. 

When you’re grieving you learn that some people are just ‘not grief people’ and others come out of the woodwork in ways you would never expect. Some people don’t know what to say, some people don’t say anything and some people can be downright insensitive. All of these characters Serena meets through her office Christmas party. The characters she meets are relatable on so many levels – from the office hunk Stephen to uptight HR Sandra you’ll be sure to recognise yourself or colleagues. 

Deck The Stalls is a very special play to me for many reasons. Grief is so painful sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with all that pain. Writing grants me ownership or power over that pain and having a creative outlet for that pain is extremely valuable. Also the play is funny, it’s a very joyous experience to take insensitive or hurtful things others have said and transform them into comedic writing and have a whole room of people laugh. 

Deck The Stalls is a truly wonderful show and I’d love for you to come and see it. It’s on the 15th and 16th June 2023 at The Arches at St. Mary’s in Putney as part of Wandsworth Fringe Festival.

Lots of love,

Lydia x 


Here’s some grief-y recommendations – if you’re looking for a laugh or just wanting to feel less alone: 

Desert Island Discs – BBC (podcast) 

Okay, maybe a surprise to people but I found these an extremely comforting listen. Notable figures and celebrities talk about profound times in their life. This often involves death and loss. Personal faves were; Russel T Davis, Cate Blanchett and Helen Fielding 

Sunset – Jessie Cave (Book)

Very beautiful book exploring specifically sibling loss. I’m also a big fan of Jessie and her sister Bebe’s podcast ‘We can’t talk about that right now’. 

An Irish Goodbye – Short Film available on BBC iPlayer 

This short film won the Oscar for best short film and it’s SO beautiful, tender and moving. I personally had a big cry at the end. It handles the topic of grief and care in a delicate way – pure lush. 

Greifcast – Cariad Llyod ( Podcast) 

I think this is one of the loveliest podcasts out there – each episode Cariad sits with someone and discusses a love one they’ve lost. It’s a very gentle and caring podcast that really delves in each individual’s complex relationship with grief. 

Deck The Stalls plays at The Arches at St. Mary’s in Putney as part of Wandsworth Fringe Festival on 15 and 16 June. Tickets and further information can be found here.

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