It’s really, really funny.
Which is bizarre and disconcerting when you consider that Colder Than Here is entirely about the family of a woman suffering with terminal cancer, Myra, and they’re grieving for someone who is still around (making them uncomfortable by micromanaging her own unconventional, eco-funeral arrangements). Writer Laura Wade does, however, allow many moments for the anguish and horror of feeling a family member slip away to shine through, despite how nice and easy Myra is trying to make it for everyone.
Riana Duce is wonderful as brave, headstrong, loving mother and wife Myra – but somehow the performance seems more about those she’ll be leaving behind: Uptight, polite, Daddy’s girl Harriet (Anna Thirkettle) and liability, self absorbed, recovered (ish) bulimic Jenna (Eliza Shea) represent archetypal sibling rivals attempting to fight through the crisis together, as opposed to their default of fighting each other. And finally, awkward, emotionally unavailable father Alec (Jason Ryall) – self-proclaimed as being “not good with problems” and the most brilliantly, endearingly acted of the ensemble. Equipped with an endless supply of absolutely priceless, (usually sarcastic) one-liners, Ryall completes the dysfunctional family and you have TFTV Theatre Society’s harrowing yet hilarious production of Colder Than Here. Look out for the PowerPoint presentation, Alec’s phone calls to the boiler company and an attempt at family bonding over a conversation about sex – flawlessly executed comedy and definitely the best bits.
You’ll find yourself really rooting for this very believably portrayed family to muddle through and be able to carry on without Myra – the glue that holds the fractured family together. It’ll make you feel a strange set of mixed emotions over the course of 90 minutes; some people left smiling, others left sobbing. I struggled with the abrupt ending of the play; personally feeling as though we were somewhat left hanging, unprepared for it. But perhaps that’s exactly what you’re supposed to feel.