PPP: Ten Things To Do Before You Die

March 8, 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆     Poignant performances

Traverse Theatre: Tue 8 – Sat 12 March 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is much to recommend in Dani Heron’s Ten Things To Do Before You Die, the latest Play, Pie and a Pint at the Traverse. Both humorous and emotional, the production manages to overcome drawbacks in its script.

Heron herself plays Claire, whose worries about turning 30 are suddenly put into sharp focus by a diagnosis of terminal cancer. The title refers to the ‘bucket list’ she scrawls on a pub napkin, as she tries to give meaning to what time she has left.

Andrew Still and Dani Heron. Pic Jonny Scott

The central character is a completely believable, flawed but thoroughly likeable. There is undoubtedly a great deal of emotion reflected in the script, and the musings on the meaning of life and death, while predictable, are nevertheless invested with genuine feeling.

Heron’s performance is a suitably commanding one, anchoring the production in reality and building up a pleasing rapport with the audience. It has to be said that this is necessary, as the play itself has real structural problems.

well-observed and funny

Having quickly set up the central character and premise, the rest of the play is little more than a series of vignettes based around the bucket list. These are largely well-observed and funny, but any sense of narrative drive is missing.

This is not helped by Claire’s continued failure to inform any of her family and friends of her illness, instead confiding only in a bartender – not the only thing here that is something of a cliché. Julie Wilson Nimmo does give the bartender a real spark – as she and Andrew Still manage to do with all of the various characters they play, although there is little depth to any of them.

Dani Heron, Andrew Still, and Julie Wilson Nimmo. Pic Jonny Scott

There is, however, real pace to Sally Reid’s direction. Gemma Patchett’s set design, meanwhile, is beautifully inventive, making particularly imaginative use of the coffin which is onstage throughout as a real memento mori.

For once the age guide of 14 plus generally applied to Play, Pie and a Pint has some justification, with language and content that are firmly towards the adult end of things.

These are far from gratuitous, however, and in the service of the considerable humour on display. This, together with the depth of feeling and committed performances, means that the problems of the script can easily be forgiven.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 March 2022
Daily at 1.00 pm
Information and tickets: https://www.traverse.co.uk/

Andrew Still and Julie Wilson Nimmo with Dani Heron. Pic Jonny Scott

ENDS

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