All the Lights Are On review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘affecting drama about fatal illness’
Kaisa Lundan’s All the Lights Are On has to be one of the saddest shows at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Staged as part of Summerhall’s From Start to Finnish programme, which celebrates all things Finland, it follows Emmy, a 30-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer, and the impact her deterioration has on those around her.
It is really, really sad. Tear-jerkingly so. Flitting back in forth in time and between home and hospice, it tracks the disintegration of Emmy’s mental and physical faculties, and the gradual evaporation of her husband’s patience and her mother’s hope.
Drawing on Lundan’s personal experience – her father was diagnosed with a fatal illness when the theatremaker was just 13 – the play mixes duologues with direct address, meditating on love, hope and what we leave behind when we’re gone.
Julian Garner’s straightforward production is wonderfully still and unafraid of quiet. It lingers powerfully on moments of silence, allowing the play’s weighty themes to echo unhindered. There’s only one misstep – a jokey gameshow skit playing bingo with Emmy’s cancer symptoms.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.