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Leave a Message review at Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh – ‘excellent cathartic writing’

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For Ed Coleman and James Mitchell’s new play, which originally saw the light at this year’s Vaults Festival, the author questions how much we will be remembered when we are gone.

Nick has died suddenly after a lifetime of chronic alcohol abuse. His wife divorced him years ago and he hadn’t spoken to his son Ed since he was a child. It’s Ed who turns up today, with his friend Sarah, to start the clearing up process following Nick’s death. As Ed ponders the detritus of a wasted life, he discovers more about himself and his late father than he could have possibly imagined.

With Leave a Message, Coleman and Mitchell fabricate a deeply sympathetic but equally harrowing history for Nick that binds him irrevocably to his son. Nick’s life is observed from several perspectives through carefully constructed characters, not least his ex-wife who still cares enough to check in on him regularly.

Ed learns a lot about his father but his biggest fear is that his addictive nature has been inherited. Slowly Coleman and Mitchell reveal Ed’s own alcoholism, which changes the trajectory of the play completely. Based on a real afternoon, Leave a Message is thoughtfully structured and features three genuinely empathetic performances, not least from Coleman himself as the troubled Ed.

Ticker review at Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh – ‘important, but slightly unconvincing’


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Excellent cathartic writing matched by equally well-judged performances