Relationships make for a dynamic and challenging subject matter in any piece of theatre. Sheffield University Theatre Company’s My Mate Dave Died touches on the complex construct of relationships whilst delivering a quick, clever and ultimately humorous storyline.
Jimmy and Dave, friends for 14 years, have starkly contrasting personalities. Jimmy, a diligent and caring individual could not be more unlike Dave, a risk taker and a jokester to all. While celebrating Jimmy’s last A-Level exam, much to the surprise of the audience, Dave dies from a sudden drug overdose. He emerges in God’s office to learn he has an ‘earthly purpose’ to achieve before he can pass into heaven. Discovering that only Jimmy can communicate with him, in a very revealing scene (quite literally), Dave must rely on the friendship one last time to accomplish his purpose.
Along the way, this production introduces a fresh take on the underlying theme of relationships: a side story concerning Flo, Jimmy’s love interest and Zoe, Flo’s dead older sister.
On occasion this story seems lengthy. Yet it does address important issues relating to suicide, delving into what was once a social taboo and giving it a powerful, expressive platform in theatre.
Whilst this play is not saturated with emotion, it had some strong, thought-provoking moments about family relationships, with the help of Kirsty Magee and her captivating performance as Dave’s grieving mum, Theresa.
More so, Wilf Walsworth and Kirsty Hobbs demonstrated superb wit and skillfulness throughout the play, adopting multiple minor roles to great comedic effect. The duet closing the show is anything but blasé and encapsulated the manner of the show suitably.
Simplicity is key to the success of this production. Thanks to Set Designer Francis Rooney, the set held character and intimacy whilst also creating multiple environments despite having only a few props on stage at once. Costumes were mostly modest, helping to bring the show back to reality after its frequent comical moments.
My Mate Dave Died exceeded my expectations, combining comedy and numerous relationships to explore life after death and the supple boundaries of friendships. Another thoughtful yet amusing production by SUTCo.
Photos by Dan West