Entertainment Hive 2020

A Gambler’s Guide to Dying

Holden Street Theatres, The Studio, until March 13

Review by Honey B

This tall tale about an extraordinary life is a sure bet. The monologue piece was written and performed by Gary McNair and is a tribute to his late grandfather. As a young man McNair’s grandfather placed a bet on the 1996 football World Cup – but he bet on England and to the ire of his fellow Scots he won. One beating later he, apparently, had a small fortune. McNair grew-up hearing this tale and many other wonderful stories spun out about his grandfather’s colourful life. It’s McNair’s charming warmth and obvious connection with the story that brought this play to life. He changes his vocal style to a larger-than-life booming voice when he is playing his grandfather and when playing the wide-eyed, believing child his voice is more unsure and higher pitched. The young McNair saw his grandfather as a hero and every weekend helped him pick the football teams to bet on and the pair would spend the day gardening and talking a lot. It was not until the young McNair started to grow up that he questioned some of the stories and realised they might be a lot more hot air than truth. But when the chips were down and his grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – both grandson and grandfather bet on life. This moving piece is about fighting death with every fibre, to live as long as you possibly can and milk as much joy out of life as you can. It’s not just about McNair’s grandfather but everyone – the will to live is strong. McNair has woven a charming tale about a beloved grandfather, luck, fate and a few blurred lines. A Gambler’s Guide To Dying is a winner.
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