Just dug out this little gem of a review!

Edward Rapley – 10 Ways to Die on Stage



If you are in Oxford tonight, don’t miss the fabulous Edward Rapley presenting a revised and longer version of his brilliant one-man show. 10 ways to die onstage will be showing as part of tonight’s Jumble it Up programme in the Burton Taylor Studios. In the version of this show that I saw, Rapley had appropriated, revised and contemporised the idea of the clown to brilliant effect. Rapley’s stage persona blew up balloons, tipped water on himself, ragged with the audience and threatened to jump off a ladder into a tiny little blow-up children’s paddling pool. When I saw 10 ways to Die on Stage this wild-haired actor performed the show I saw in plain t-shirt and jeans with no red nose, and yet was the most sincere and accomplished ‘fool‘ I have ever seen performing live.

Lively and versatile, Rapley flips between joy and dejection rapidly and skillfully and the effect is intensely engaging and intimate. The line between auto-biography and devised theatre performance seem blurred and the confessional, actor-bares-all quality in the work is totally convincing. The only thing that makes me think it is devised rather than completely improvised, is the evident skill in the timing and the imagery used throughout the work. In this piece we are subjected to the nervous ramblings of a terrified actor, the tragicomedy of a balloon being blown up and deflated to great emotional effect, the impishness of Rapley threatening to pour water on the expensive electrical equipment surrounding the stage and many other spectacles that are funny, discomforting and sometimes terribly sad. Rapley’s emotional navigations only feel tricky or awkward when that is intended; which makes for paradoxically uncomfortable and comforting viewing. It is comforting to be sheltered in the dark, anonymous audience and not up on the stage, and yet uncomfortable to empathise (as one inevitably does) with the somehow terribly naked portrait of flawed, fragile humanity presented before us. The lone figure on the stage is an isolated yet triumphant figure, embodying perhaps that defiant spirit of humour which I described in yesterday’s post. The control and timing throughout the show is excellent and Rapley himself is utterly engaging to watch. A redemptive show; you will laugh until you cry and will feel more human somehow after seeing this man apparently lays wide his great clown heart before you.


I loved it and am sad that I won’t be able to make it along myself for a second round of Rapley.”


April 2008




10 Ways to Die on Stage

is at Postcard Festival at Jackson’s Lane – the 9th of July 



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