Review by Carmel Shortall
Michael stumbles through the door of his kitchen in his pyjamas to find a strange woman sitting at the table knitting, in Julia Lee Dean’s comedy drama. The woman has been expecting him: she’s dead and now so is he. She’s the previous tenant, Agatha, who has been haunting the place unnoticed for 20 years. Michael takes some convincing however and it is only when he looks out the window to see a wreath spelling “Mikey” on a coffin being loaded into a hearse, that the penny finally drops.
For the next hour, Agatha guides the stressed-out Michael through the different stages of loss and mourning – no wonder he keeled over from a heart attack – until he reaches an acceptance of his situation and an understanding of what was really important in life.
He frets about work, “I’m a manager…I haven’t got time to be dead”, while Agatha keeps knitting the cardigan she never finished in life. He also frets about his wife and best friend, Toby, getting together: “He lived fast and I died young.”
Stephanie Felton’s direction captures the sense of inertia demanded by the play and it is the living characters that appear to be ephemeral as they move through the ‘lives’ of the watching ghosts. Agatha never moves from her seat, while her knitting grows shorter instead of longer, and Michael gradually settles down on the other side of the table. They watch the living and discuss god and philosophy but come to no conclusions. Eventually Michael learns to let go: eternity is a long time…
The cast acquit themselves well. Marcus Ezekiel frets convincingly as newly dead Michael learning that he is no longer in control of anything. Louise Green as phlegmatic Agatha is clearly enjoying her death as she never did her life. Of the living, Siobhan Shulz as Michael’s wife, Catherine, and Steve Jesson as infatuated Toby grieve and grow close with tenderness and delicacy while Paul Hughes is suitably horrible as drunken, lecherous Mr Reynolds.
Limbo is funny and sad by turns but never takes itself too seriously. It feels short at only one hour and could easily go on for longer. Catch it at The Etcetera for one more evening, Sunday 21st August at 6.00pm.