41,689 performances. 2,542 shows. 258 venues. One death.

The Edinburgh Fringe is the biggest Arts festival in the world. This year, one show looks at a real life assisted death.

This month, the number of people in Edinburgh is set to triple as it hosts its enormous Festival Fringe. Spanning comedy, serious drama and light entertainment as well as dance and music, the Festival has something for everyone amid its 41,689 performances of 2,542 shows in 258 locations around the city. There are over 21,000 performers: one of them is Chris Larner.

An Instinct for Kindness

Last year, Chris accompanied his terminally ill ex-wife to Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic. This moving, bittersweet show reflects on the circumstances, morality and humanity surrounding the journey. Called ‘An Instinct for Kindness,’ the piece is directed by triple Fringe First-winner, Hannah Eidinow. Chris Larner is a writer, actor and director. His stage work includes Alice in Wonderland (RSC); Wind In The Willows (National Theatre) and he has also worked in television.

“Allyson arrived back at my flat a fortnight later.  Or rather, a version of her.  It was sooner than I had imagined.  Damn efficient, the Swiss.  We’ll take her up to the Chevin, when the time is right.  Me and the family.  We’ll say some words while the Yorkshire wind takes her . . .

The real value of this production is maybe that it brings the reality of assisted suicide into our everyday life, at a time when we would expect to be too busy to confront such issues. With today’s hectic lifestyles, it is easy to avoid thinking about such things until it is too late, until tragedy threatens ourselves or someone close to us. And while reading about the subject might help, a live dramatisation helps us to invest emotionally, to see it through the eyes and time of those affected, and more clearly imagine how we ourselves would come to terms with such a situation in our lives.

Reviewers comments:

“I really enjoyed this show. Sad, funny & bittersweet, it is powerful, emotive, thought-provoking and not nearly as depressing as it had the potential to be. In fact, it is often more humourous than sad, and always interesting and engaging. ‘Alison’ is truly brought to life and the performance is a great celebration of her and a real insight into her condition and the journey she ultimately took to Dignitas in Switzerland.”

“There’s something almost too intimate about a show in which a man talks about his ex-wife’s terminal illness and her decision to end her life at the Swiss clinic Dignitas, but Chris Larner is engagingly honest and direct in recounting his experience.”

An Instinct for Kindness is showing at the Pleasance Dome, Potterrow, Edinburgh, Scotland, (near the University), on the following dates: 6–29 Aug (not 10, 17). 4.10pm £8–£10
Tickets: 0131 556 6550

Further links:
Broadway World review
Official Fringe listing
Chris Larner’s webpage

Edinburgh Festival Guide article
Full article in The Sun newspaper

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