Met on the Road Theatre Company
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has always been a place where new theatre is not afraid to tackle complex societal issues. As much as playwriting and performance can tell us stories, it can also peer deep into the murkier and more deep seated areas of human experience.
Met on the Road Theatre Company’s new piece, Tom, is one such performance, peering deep into the well of discomfort that surrounds suicide, and trying to wrestle sense from the senselessness.
The play follows a bereaved father on holiday with his new family as he learns that one of his sons has committed suicide. What follows is a sometimes painful, often frantic and soul-searching piece of theatre, as he searches for information and solace in the company of family and friends, trying to uncover the reasons behind this act of self-destruction. But it never quite gets to the emotion of the piece, feeling rather superficial at times when it should be more willing to be vulnerable.
It’s still a commendable performance, spoken in occasional rhyme and punctuated by the lifting of a great lump of masonry in a clear Sisyphean act between the various chapters as we chart the stages of grief through which the protagonist passes.
Despite the sombre subject, there is a strange detached feeling to the play, as the piece never quite manages to stir the emotions of the audience, largely as the father in the story is a rather distant character whom we only ever see things through the lens of his own grief and self-blame.
That said, there are no easy answers, and the play doesn’t attempt to preach or sermonise but rather simply to understand and forgive.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan