Edinburgh Festivals Magazine / Emily Hall

The Midnight Soup is a powerful piece of theatre centred around a diary given from grandmother to grandson in 2006, and her suicide years later.

Leo Burtin recounts memories of his grandmother and provokes questions about family, suicide and life with strangers in each performance.

Unlike most shows, The Midnight Soup has assigned seating and name cards. Burtin shares his grandmother’s story as the audience helps him to chop vegetables around a long table. She lived alone in France, widowed by her husband, fond of her grandchildren, chronicling the minutia of her life in annual diaries.

Burtin reads from those diaries, first from selected passages meant to impart a sense of who she was and then from dates which are meaningful to the audience members. The memories he supplements are poignant and touching. Over the vegetable soup, he raises the question of whether things would have been different if assisted suicide had been an option to his grandmother. He wonders if she would have been able to plan with her family and to say goodbye.

This show is meant to provoke this specific set of questions, but it could mean a lot of different things to different people. The setting creates a strange intimacy between strangers, with people sharing emotions and thoughts they would have trouble broaching with their own families. It is an incredible feat of theatre, albeit to ambiguous and uncontrollable ends.