As anyone who’s ever spent any time in Ireland knows, when something is referred to as ‘deadly’ (or ‘savage’) it generally means ‘good’. Likewise, and not altogether obvious, is that ‘brutal’ just means ‘bad’ and to illustrate it Anna uses the example of a ‘brutal’ murder; it doesn’t mean merciless, it just means whoever committed the felony made a botch of it, one of those Friday afternoon/Monday morning homicides. This is a high-octane performance from a sparky player with a huge presence and the wise-cracks persist throughout as we learn about her family, relationships and hatred of the mood music employed in waxing parlours. The show pivots around events in March 2020 (a month we’ll all probably still be talking about in fifty years’ time) as Anna returns home to see her boyfriend only to discover her mother has a ‘brain tumour the size of a golf ball in her head’. Said boyfriend drops her off apparently sympathetically but then fails to communicate (ghosts!) thereafter for two years or more. Most would have taken the hint but as Anna points out, he never officially ended the relationship. Fair play.
What happens next is she heads with a friend to Meath (stop it) for an Ayahuasca retreat, replete with Shaman. Emerging a couple of days later from the experience (having forsaken tech for the duration) the first thing she sees on her phone is that the world’s in the middle of a pandemic and confinement to home is the order of the day. Four adults under one roof but the next year or so stirs up memories of childhood and a re-evaluation of her mother’s role in her upbringing. In the midst of the retreat she only saw dancing asses but back in the ‘normal’ world, following a successful operation, she realises her mother is indeed… deadly.
It was all amusing stuff, at times moving, but there were periods when things drifted, possibly as a result of how busy the delivery, or maybe this was just an exhausted Sunday evening audience? Irrepressible, brimming with energy and – research reveals – with so many strings to her bow, in a few years’ time we might well be claiming ‘I was there in ’22’.
Running until August 28th at The Gilded Balloon Teviot (Balcony). Tickets https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/anna-clifford-i-see-dead-ly-people
Reviewer: Roger Jacobs
Reviewed: 14th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★