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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Every One, Royal Lyceum theatre review

Published in The Guardian

Every One

Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
5 out of 5

In the past five years, the author of Every One has lost a wife to a brain tumour, undergone a heart bypass operation, embraced Christianity and become a woman: John Clifford is now Jo Clifford. This upheaval has found expression in her writing, from a translation of Faust to the bereavement-based Leave to Remain. But it is in Every One, an astonishing response to the medieval Everyman, that she processes the trauma of death most profoundly.

This is a high-risk strategy. Every One is an open wound of a play, tender, private and vulnerable. It is protected by a self-deprecating humour and a rhetorical elegance – not to mention a superb production by Mark Thomson – but it is essentially raw and exposed. Clifford is either brave or foolhardy. You'd call her egotistical if there weren't tears rolling down your cheeks.

Like her own story, the play is both extraordinary and everyday. Mary is a mother of two whose sudden death leaves her husband and children struggling to find the order they had previously sought in Latin verbs, video games and fashion design. Journeying with Death towards heaven, Mary reflects on her life in a discussion that ranges from the futility of ironing to the Holocaust and the greed underpinning global warming.

As with many plays about death, it does not know how to end, and concludes in a frustrating stasis. But it has two absolving qualities: it is about a presence rather than an absence (Kathryn Howden, stunning as Mary, is scarcely off the stage); and it engages with the outside world, relating the bereavement on stage to every death of the last century. It is a work of cathartic brilliance.

Until 10 April. Box office: 0131-248 4848.

© Mark Fisher 2010

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