Review: Final Cut at Underbelly

There’s a lot to like about Final Cut, which takes the form of a memorial service for writer and director ‘Sir Trevor Brierly’, hosted by two of his oldest ‘friends’, Michaelmas Crouch and Patio Horse. There are readings from Sir Trevor’s memoirs, clips from his films, and appearances by all those who knew him, each offering their own stories.

The physical comedy is excellent. In one scene, two decrepit old men spend a good few minutes trying to contort their stiff bodies so they can simply sit down. When they finally manage it, the inevitable ‘I’m in your chair’ line lands very well. The two performers, Coward and Tothill, show impressive versatility and strong improvisational skills in their varied characterisations of the guests, some of which are side-splittingly funny. The multimedia element also works well.

But the show doesn’t hit the mark in every area, and it certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The humour is simply too weak at points and, whilst probably inevitable to an extent given the nature of the show, there are also long periods of dialogue which are extremely inaccessible. This was well-illustrated by the significant variation of reactions around the room, probably because much of the humour seemed based on presumptions of significant cultural capital. 

For what it is – and if judged on its own terms – Final Cut is mostly pretty good. But the main problem is that what it actually is – in other words, the premise – just isn’t strong enough, and isn’t executed with enough clarity. It’s sold as a ‘touching story of loneliness’, which is hinted at throughout, and the ending tries to become serious and turn towards profundity, but it has strikingly little depth. At best, the show does attempt to critique upper-class culture, but fails to make this clear enough. At worst, it is simply shallow, and an unneeded trivialisation of the toxicity of these very people.

Final Cut is on at Underbelly, Cowgate – Belly Dancer at 12:30 pm until the 25th

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