The God Box: A Daughter's Story
Overtly emotive play based on Mary-Lou Quinlan's New York Times best-selling book at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Mary Lou Quinlan’s The God Box is based on her autobiographical New York Times best-selling book, and is exactly what the subheading tells us: ‘A daughter’s story’. In this one-woman, deeply personal show Quinlan recounts her relationship with her mother from childhood to her mother's death from cancer.
With all the proceeds from ticket sales going to Macmillan Cancer Support, the sincerity of Quinlan’s homage to her mother is unquestionable. It’s easy to see why she is an avid women’s rights advocate, or has received five honorary doctorates, as she commands the stage with a disarming vulnerability.
Black humour injects some much needed lightness into the play, and whilst at times the cheese factor runs dangerously high – on the way out every audience member is handed special God Box tissues emblazoned with the words ‘You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll want to call your mother’ – the sentiment reveals the thought behind the show.
Deliberately emotive theatrical tactics aside (black and white photographs of blissfully happy Quinlan family times, answerphone recordings of her mother’s voice), the real problem lies not in the performance, but in what The God Box is. This is a play for a generation with elderly parents, or people who have lost loved ones. Whilst others can empathise with this pain and grief, it is aimed clearly at a particular audience.