Toby Peach is reciting his own eulogy. Or rather he is reciting his own anti-eulogy, a refusal to give in to the threat of cancer and a celebration of his life. This is a deeply personal show, written and performed by Toby himself about his experience of being diagnosed with the disease as a young man. Strange then that I came away feeling slightly frustrated, having expected to have a more emotional response to what is on the face of it a moving story of survival.
Toby talks the audience through his life up until the diagnosis at breakneck speed, pinpointing key moments of change with exact precision as to time and date. This exactitude with numbers is repeated and extended into a neat device throughout the show, as he uses figures to explain the monetary costs of cancer. This is one of the most effective elements of the production, demonstrating just how necessary the NHS really is. Having such an exact attitude to time also places emphasis on the idea of time running out, and so heightens the sense of tension within the performance.
Peach is an energetic actor, and certainly gives a likeable performance whilst telling his story. However, as the show shifts rapidly between these personal monologues and the morbid humour of his host at the ‘Cancer Club’ – here imagined as an exclusive members only establishment – I was left feeling a little detached from him as a person. And though there was frequent mention of his girlfriend, the complexities of how that relationship would be affected by his cancer were not explored in enough detail to be truly moving.
The Eulogy of Toby Peach is an accomplished and smoothly delivered piece of theatre, which teaches its audience about both the emotional and financial costs of cancer in an engaging way. Yet whilst I was interested in Toby’s journey, I ended up feeling detached from the raw emotion of his experience. 3/5
Review written by Holly Kilpatrick.
The Eulogy of Toby Peach is currently showing at the Underbelly Cowgate as part of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival until Sunday 30th August. For more information on the production, visit here…