Jack Rooke: Good Grief
Teenage angst all through the night
This article is from 2015.
Jack Rooke has a bubbly, winning personality. He has a quick wit, addresses the audience well, and a decade ago might have become a stand-up comedian. Perhaps realising that this would lead to success, alcohol abuse and bitterness, he has opted for a performance art route, following in the footsteps of Bryony Kimmings or Richard Dedominici.
It isn't that Rooke lacks charm or skill, or that his thoughts on grief are predictable. His commitment to discussing death in public (still a taboo) and challenging the cuts to widow's benefits make him more than a good performer. He is a sincere young man, who tells stories with wit and panache.
His weakness is that he is so young: the obsessive recollection of his personal journey is not balanced by a more detailed reflection on his grieving process and his bravado obscures a more sensitive side. His 'reveal everything' personality is not tempered by a solid structure, and his monologue retains a measure of self-indulgence.
That said, this is a promising debut, and a lively hour. Like Kimmings, his maturing may lead to more incisive theatre, and a more expansive vision of the world that goes beyond his own experience.
Underbelly Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug, 4pm, £9-£10 (£8-£9).