Take The Rubbish Out Sasha
Traverse Theatre Company
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
This third one-act-play in this year's A Play, A Pie and A Pint series focuses on a family who have recently lost the father, Sasha (Paul Cunningham), a colonel in the Ukrainian army. It is a play chiefly about grief and remembering the dead, though it does go on to cover more political issues.
Despite being dead, Sasha still converses with his daughter Oksana (Jenny Hulse) and continues to argue with his wife Katya (Jill Riddiford). The play though short captures many of the different emotions that are brought to the surface by mourning.
Katya berates her husband's pajamaed ghost for leaving them. There is a lot of anger at the beginning of the play. Thankfully, we see Katya's way of dealing with her loss change over the play. Riddiford does a great job portraying this difficult character.
Despite playing a dead man, Paul Cunningham has a surprising amount of stage time, allowing the play to explore his life and his relationship with his mother and daughter. It also covers his problems with alcohol and his time in the army.
The way the play covers the recent conflict in Ukraine is clever, with Sasha attempting to come to back to fight for his country along with other dead officers. The play doesn't have time to deal with the complexities of the conflict but it does show a little of the hardships faced by the people of Ukraine.
Oksana is a nice contrast to her rather aggressive mother; her memories of Sasha are much rosier, leading to some arguments between mother and daughter over how they should remember Sasha, reminding us of the different way people remember those who have died and also how people affect others differently.
This play is a very good exploration of grief, in a way that feels at times uncomfortably real. It also manages to fit in some exploration of current events in Ukraine and the more general problems of people living in countries affected by conflict.
Reviewer: Seth Ewin