Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: Good Grief, Ugly Bucket Theatre, VAULT Festival ★★★★★

Good Grief is the most exciting piece of theatre I’ve had the pleasure to watch this year at the VAULT Festival. Everything from the set to the melty makeup to the thumping electro was pitch perfect. The show reached emotional depth whilst also being an incredibly funny and lively piece of art. 

Good Grief is a clowning piece about a group tasked to make a show, by their dying friend, about death. What follows in the short one hour is a jam-packed story about grief, mourning and everything in between. With short bursts of verbatim speech through voiceover which is sure to make you well up. 

Words can not describe the excellence of Ugly Bucket, they are an incredibly well-oiled machine. The performers are so in sync with the music and each other that it almost makes you forget that they are five separate people. The stage was flooded with constant movement, amazing music and light– showing the unity between the cast and the creative theme. The entire production felt so perfectly precise, not a moment was wasted. I loved the music especially, the way they melded the voiceover into the heavy beat was incredible, it was clear that so much care went into the production. 

The performance was full of energy, it was incredible to see how the actors embodied their clowns, each marked with an amazing physicality and distinct from the other. The show had me gasping, jolting and genuinely laughing out loud. Yet, Ugly Bucket continued to play me like a fiddle, just when I got comfortable with the story it whizzes to the next joke or worse hits me in the gut with a moving story about grief.

I have to mention the captioning throughout the show, on a short screen above the stage was live captioning, which added so much to the show. Not only is it showing us who Ugly Bucket are as a theatre company but also allowed us as an audience to have more to see. There were multiple special details like this throughout which just added that extra magic and character. A few I must mention are; the use of ASL when saying sorry and thank you, the ‘invisible’ words on the set, and my favourite, the phone–tucked away in the corner. That phone, when it finally rang, felt like Chekov’s gun. It was one of the most moving parts of the show. 

Recommended Drink: For Good Grief I would recommend a nice glass of water, to rehydrate after losing all those tears.

Catch Good Grief at the VAULT Festival until Sunday 19th of March at 7:50pm, 7:10pm and 2:50pm in the Studio. Tickets are available through the VAULT Festival box office. 

Aditi Mohan

Our Race, Ethnicity & Culture Editor & London Editor. Obsessed with the Postcolonial world. Aditi likes to look at how theatre and comedy reflects today’s world of multiplicity. She’s keen to watch any kind of theatre or performance but comedy is her go to, because if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

Festivals: Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Bloomsbury Festival (2023)
Pronouns: She/Her