King’s Head Theatre, London – until 13 August 2017
“It was necessary, normal, non-negotiable” … Cradeaux Alexander‘s Funeral Meats is a more oblique piece than Coming Clean, set in the aftermath of a funeral where the remnants of the wake come together and clash – “I thought grief was supposed to bring people together” someone laments at one point. The deceased is Luke and Laura’s famous mother but the siblings aren’t close, and also thrown into the mix are Luke’s ex-husband Felix and the enigmatic Barbara, an old friend of the dead woman.
Over five short scenes running from 7pm through to midnight, they dig into their shared history and their fragmented present, a never-ending flow of booze loosening lips and inhibitions. Alexander coils his characters with all sorts of differing agendas, the legacies of the past having impacted on them in contrasting ways but in the relatively short space of time here, doesn’t quite unpack them all sufficiently.
The most powerful thread comes from the exploration of mental health issues, Ramona Von Pusch’s Laura nailing the rapidly intensifying manic energy that prefigures a crisis. And there’s fascinating stuff in the collapse of Luke and Felix’s relationship due to gay marriage not being recognised in the same way across international borders, you long for more from Alexander’s Luke and Luca Pusceddu’s Felix here.
Funeral Meats is also directed by Alexander and one does wonder what an outside perspective would bring to the work, Helen Adie’s character work as Barbara feeling a little unfocused and disconnected from the larger thrust of the play. But it’s nonetheless an intriguing little drama.