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Stone Jetty Productions are a Mancunian theatre company and their new play “Waiting for Spring” is written and directed by Sarah Wilkinson. It is currently showing at Greenside at Nicolson Square. Jack (Alex Noblett) is struggling to recover from the death of his girlfriend, Annie (Steph Reynolds), and he is housebound with depression. He remains inaccessible to two worried friends (Leni Murphy and Marcus Christopherson). Fortunately, the deceased Annie is still pretty sprightly. Her ghost invades Jack’s home and tries to, yes, lift his spirits.

Grief is an off-putting subject but, in choosing to deploy the charm and gentleness of a romantic comedy, “Waiting for Spring” successfully counterbalances the ugliness of Jack’s depression. I prefer my ghosts spooky but the phantom played by Reynolds is also unexpectedly successful. In a well-judged performance, she is warm, fun, and melancholy. She is not superior, with no inside knowledge of the afterlife, and her concern is entirely with the land of the living. It is possible, of course, that she is just a part of Jack’s mind that is arguing with itself, in the process of shedding layers of grief.

There are weaknesses to the writing as well. I am not sure that this play needs to always have the Persephone myth by its side like an unwieldy crutch. “Waiting for Spring” takes a wistful interest in generating humour from the two supporting characters but its plot requires them to keep their distance. It is better to be snappy at the Fringe and this somewhat plump play would not be harmed by losing fifteen of so minutes of its dialogue.

I was also confused by the second scene. Jack, out on the lash with his friend Andy (Cristopherson), is sulky but he has otherwise recovered remarkably from his grief. Indeed, he is soon laughing that his last girlfriend was a “bitch.” It takes me some time to grasp that this is a flashback that depicts the night when Jack had first met Annie. There is probably a smoother available technique for inducting us into this story’s system of flashbacks.

In trying to talk Jack out of his grief, are Annie et al merely shouting at a concrete wall? This is the mystery within “Waiting for Spring.” Is grief an illness, which you simply have to wait to recover from, or are there wiser ways to grieve? Raising this question for contemplation makes, in the case of this play, for some enjoyable storytelling.

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