Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
The Traverse does grown-up Christmas theatre, and we’re thankful for that. It’s not that we don’t enjoy stories for younger audiences (Philip is a children’s author, after all), but it’s good to have a little variety, and the festive season often seems a little one-note, catering only for those with youngsters in tow. Not here, though. Here we have Matthew Bulgo’s Last Christmas, a monologue about grief and love.
Welshman Tom is angry and depressed. He’s struggling to cope with his father’s death, and hates the forced jollity of the office Christmas party, especially when Suse, his despised boss, tries to make him pay actual cash for the privilege of being there. He has relationship problems too: things with his girlfriend, Nat, are moving faster than he can deal with, and he’s really not sure that he’s going to make it through the holidays. A visit home to see his mum helps him to confront his demons, and to come to terms with both his future and his past.
It’s a strong performance from Matthew Bulgo, who succeeds in taking us with him through a whole gamut of emotions. There’s no set, no props, no obvious costume. Just one man, casually dressed, talking us through a few days of his life. And it’s well done: understated and convincing. Okay, so it’s a slight tale, and there’s no moment of high drama, no resounding climax to round things off. But it’s very nicely told, and certainly worth going to see.
Susan “Suse” Singfield