Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, Thu 11 Feb
Not words of wisdom delivered by an eccentric old rogue as you might expect from the publicity poster, A Gambler’s Guide To Dying is instead a set of reminiscences by his grandson.
Written and performed by Gary McNair, this show mixes comedy and pathos to produce a triumphant tale about the human spirit.
Granddad is an inveterate storyteller and gambler, and McNair as a child loves to listen to his stories. Are they true? Does it matter?
McNair takes full advantage of the comedy to be milked from Scottish/English rivalries. He begins with an amusing description of Scottish football fans reacting to England’s win in the 1966 World Cup. Apparently granddad won a fortune on this game, but is this true? If so, what happened to the money?
Young Gary is enlisted at too early an age to help granddad bet on football results. Whenever there is a small win, the money seems to be re-invested in the next game. Why be satisfied with a small fortune when there is a larger one to be made? A glimpse into the addict’s raison d’etre – the thrill is in the possibility of winning more than in the prize.
When Granddad is diagnosed with cancer the betting becomes about how long he will survive the odds. Again, whenever he reaches a target, instead of enjoying his winnings the money is reinvested towards a new target. Friends and family members behave as if they expect to be beneficiaries of these bets upon grandad’s demise.
McNair uses the stage masterfully, and keeps the audience fully engaged with rapid-fire wit and mini-portrayals of other minor characters. Amongst the hilarity, the old man does ultimately provide a guide to what is valuable in life and how to deal with impending death, as promised in the title.
A standout life-affirming show well worth making the effort to see.
A Gambler’s Guide To Dying continues at Holden Street Theatres – The Studio, at various times, until Sun 13 Mar.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 and adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.