Death is the topic that the performance of For Their Own Good tackles head on. We are told the story of Scott (played by Jack Trow) and Tom (played by Jake Oldershaw) and how they both look at death from the personal perspective of farmers. They have to face death in their job, mainly in the slaughtering of horses. The horse itself is a large puppet that is hooked to the ceiling of the performance space. The design of the horse is abstract, its exterior consisting of cloth zipped up and stuck together with velcro and its life-size scale making it look bold and powerful. Both the performers move its large frame, granting the animal life but taking that life away with a gunshot to the head.
The actual performance space is the Demonstration Room within the Summerhall venue, a former veterinary school. When the corpse of the puppet is hoisted up and left idly dangling, the history of the venue seems prominent and fitting.
For Their Own Good is interspersed with audio recordings of different individuals talking poignantly about death. These recordings give the performance a documentary style feel and definitely enforce the seriousness of the topic and gravity of the performance. The audience is reminded that death affects us all and even though Scott and Tom feel removed from death in their job, it is still very much part of their lives whether they like it or not.
The script for the piece is credited to United Artists, the company who also stage the performance. The dialogue and interaction between Jake Oldershaw and Jack Trow ensures that the characters are visceral and that the dynamic energy is totally genuine. For Their Own Good is an important piece of theatre that will make the audience ask questions on death and assisted dying. It has an aura of tragedy, comedy and poignancy, making it an enjoyable and powerful experience.