Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019
My Mate Dave Died is a slickly executed new show written by Michael Alexander with real moments of excellence. It offers an effective juxtaposition between comedy and tragedy but needs to smoothen the transition between the two to sharpen the portrayal of each genre.
When Jimmy’s friend Dave dies and arrives at a purgatory-esque destination, the play reveals the citizens of limbo who live undetected alongside us. In order to access heaven, Dave must first discover and accomplish the earthly purpose he is yet to fulfil – the reason for which he was cast back down to the world. Weaving together Jimmy’s reactions to the grief at the loss of Dave, the oddity of suddenly being able to interact with Dave’s ghost, the strains this puts on his relationship with his girlfriend and A-Level results day, this piece thrives in its moments of realist comedy.
The cast is clearly very talented, with a particularly funny performance from Cerys Hayes, but the acting occasionally comes across as overwrought and unnatural at times when the characters reach moments of pain. The feel of the writing matches this level – hilarious and original at points, it excels in moments of normal conversation between the characters, which perfectly capture family scraps, daily humour and human idiosyncrasy. But when things get more serious it doesn’t quite hit the mark, especially when this is exaggerated by flashes of overacting. The otherworldly concept occasionally flips into the realm of cliché but flourishes in more farcical moments when the ethereal and the ordinary collide.
The play has the potential to be a real hit, but the acting and the idea behind it require a little more nuance to bring out the valuable ore that clearly sparkles in moments of brilliance.