How to Bury a Dead Mule - Pleasance Edinburgh Fringe
A personal story of post-war acclimatisation
During the first lockdown in 2020, Richard Clements sat down to write about his grandfather, Norman. His story, far too common, was of trauma, loss and pain as he sought to rebuild his life after the conclusion of the Second World War. A personal story for Richard, he handles the topics with deep empathy and care, authentically delivering his grandfather’s tale, posing permanently relevant questions about how we support those risking everything for their country.
"Memories have been boxed" in Norman’s care home, but now is the time to explore their contents. Clements pulls a military jacket from one of the boxes are we are submersed into his world. Archival footage is displayed behind him, injecting practical context and scale into the space, neatly expanding its confines. Clements clambers over the boxes with spirit, but much of the movement direction seems to be out of step with the overall timbre of the piece, absorbing some of the hard-earned emotional output.
The language is strong and descriptive, doing justice to Norman’s impressive story although there are moments when the plot radically jumps around a little too often, risking the audience being left behind. These leaps become a little more manageable as the play progresses and we begin to understand Norman’s decline as he struggles to operate under the immense weight of the events he has witnessed. The lighting design is a particular highlight of this production, the moving spots working well to represent significant characters in Norman’s life, adding dynamism to the show.
Whilst offering a thoroughly impressive performance intertwined with an important message and narrative, there is scope for this production to be refined and grow. I sincerely hope that this is not the final version that audiences get to see because Norman’s story, albeit a challenging one, is a story worth hearing - its implications still resonating today.
Running 10-15th, 17-20th, 22-27th - Tickets