For the second time today and for the third time this week I find myself in a show about cancer. Earlier I learnt about BRCA1 on the back of a cello with a sharpie, today we have the ‘chemotherapy cocktail’. Who needs Barcardi when you have cyclophosphamide? Welcome to the Cancer Club.
The Cancer Club is an ‘exclusive club’, says our charismatic host (AKA Toby Peach with sunglasses). Only one in two of us will ever get to join. If you’re unlucky enough to have mutated super-cells then you could be entitled to a whole host of unwanted add-ons: hair loss, infertility, and the old favourite, remission. The newest member? Toby Peach.
Toby is 20 and he hasn’t even left university. Toby has a girlfriend called Christie and a best friend called James. Toby has cancer and was diagnosed 2,102,000 minutes ago. He didn’t expect to get a terminal illness before his degree, but then, who does?
The Eulogy of Toby Peach is touchingly personal, using projection to include images of his life. But it’s Peach’s charisma that brings the show alive – a good thing too, considering the title of the show. Solo performers need unreal degrees of unfaltering energy to drag us along with them, and Peach does this effortlessly. He leads us through it all: chemo, remission, sperm freezing – you name it – and recounts the whole experience with hilariously dark humour.
For instance, he tells Christie he’s leaving her for ‘Ivy’, his IV cable, and medicine doses become shots. The Eulogy of Toby Peach is full of these clever little gems, keeping the tone light-hearted but not veering too outlandish or patronising. It’s ultimately a charming celebration of survival but also a celebration of cherishing every last detail of life– something we all need to be reminded of from time to time.
The Eulogy of Toby Peach is playing at Underbelly Cowgate until August 30th. For more information, visit the Fringe website.