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Another Heartbreaking But Ultimately Life-Affirming Show About Death - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

What a wasted opportunity. Engaging stand-up newcomer Sanderson Jones, inspired by the death of his own mother when he was just ten, promises a mature, tender show about the ultimate taboo.

Yet for all his fine words about how we should accept the inevitable – death is a subject he himself shies away from; raising the obvious questions of why chose that as the theme in the first place?

He starts, not on topic, but with inconsequential blether about whether omitting his name from the show title was a mistake or not. Who cares? Everyone in that room, at least, was intrigued enough by the title to come along to a show that makes no bones about its aims. So crack on, joke-boy.

But when he does get on to the subject in hand, he’s still coy. Instead of anything meaningful we get a parade of glib jokes about wanking onto open caskets and, for variety, wanking while an omnipresent god looks on.

After laughing at his youthful haircut, the next topic is his grumpy, sceptical father, who is struck with incredulity at anything new. ‘Goat’s cheese?’, Jones Sr harrumphs when he first encounters the popular dairy product. ‘Goat’s? Cheese?’ Sanderson might want to check out the little-known comedian who does an identical routine about garlic bread, cos it really comes to something when Peter Kay is the comic being borrowed FROM.

With a running time of just under 40 minutes – far from the advertised 60 – this doesn’t leave much time for what is, after all, a pretty big topic. The second half of the show hints at what might have been, with decent material about the platitudes we feel compelled to utter in times of grief, the concept of not speaking ill of the dead, and dealing with death without belief in any sort of afterlife.

These discussions seem more indicative of the show the charismatic Jones probably wanted to do – but it’s too little, too late. The predictable concluding message is to seize every opportunity in life, for you never know when it might end. Jones might have done well to take his own advice and grabbed this subject matter by both hands, rather than cushioning in so many irrelevancies and cheap jokes that any serious intent is lost.

Review date: 14 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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