It starts with a death. A non-believing diver (Nigel Munson) wakes up in purgatory, faced with deciding the fate of his afterlife. Yet this purgatory is a bureaucracy of paperwork run by a receptionist (Jake Hassam). It's a melting pot of religious options, but what is the point of an afterlife?
It's a question that the play explores through a witty and cleverly written script. Does an arrogant Christian God offer a heaven worthy of eternity? Is reincarnation a suitable option if we're no closer to Nirvana? The receptionist asks the diver to consider his life through both flashback and an amusing gameshow, but going back to right his wrongs is too easy an option. Yet if the diver has made peace with both his own death and the death of his father, then why live in an afterlife at all?
The whole conceit may seem clichéd, but the play poses some interesting philosophical questions - it just doesn't quite know how to answer them. The performance is well-paced, but it meanders through the narrative in different directions, loses its way a little and doesn't quite satisfy.
The humorous tone, though, ensures this is a thoroughly entertaining production. Munson brings plenty of blokey humanity to the diver, whilst Hassam is electric as the eccentric and unpredictable receptionist. There's plenty of creative flare in the characterisation and use of limited space.
Soften the Grey covers a lot of ground in just over an hour, perhaps spreading itself too thin. Yet this is a very thought-provoking little two-hander.
Watch: Soften the Grey runs at the Hope Theatre until the 31st January.