Review – An Instinct For Kindness, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Fringe

Friday 12 August 2011

“So, what is it?” asked Phil as the Whingers took their seats for An Instinct For Kindness.

“It’s about a man who takes his ex-wife to Dignitas.”

Cue sound of lead balloon crashing through the seat.

Of all the comedy, the froth, the entertainment, the conjuring, the variety available on the Fringe (the Whingers heard a rumour yesterday that one show includes plate spinning – when did you last see that on stage? Probably never if you’re under 35) why this?

Yet by the time its 70 minutes the lead balloon has been miraculously winched back into its customary position of just above Andrew’s head, poised to plummet at the next suggestion offered by him about anything, however casually.

Chris Larner’s (remember the character Cling Film from London’s Burning? Nor do we but never mind.) one man show tells the story of how his ex-wife’s life became intolerable for her due to Multiple Sclerosis and how he helped her to take one final journey to the famed Portakabin-type clinic in Switzerland.

Surprisingly and thankfully it is a sad tale told occasionally with great wit. Never mawkish but often deeply moving, Larner’s prose and delivery combine to paint indelible visions of the people and the settings. The next morning the Whingers could still see in their tiny minds the scenery from the hotel window, a room of discarded zimmer frames, the cup of the fatal liquid.

There is also a lot of very interesting detail about the Dignitas process and the astonishing obstacles that  have to be overcome for someone to make it there at all due to the English laws prohibiting the abetting of an act of suicide. These discourage the necessary notaries and medical and care staff from co-operating in even the most passive capacity.

Unforgettable.

Rating

Rating score 5-5 our cups overfloweth

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