Fringe Review: Let the Bodies Pile

Jeremy Welch reviews Let the Bodies Pile at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

HENRY NAYLOR is a fantastic playwright with justifiable awards and accolades heaped upon him.  This production is typical Naylor, probing, questioning and leaving the audience to judicate.  Is it his best work? No, but it is great theatre all the same.

The play is in two parts. The production starts with a squabbling sibling couple after the death of their mother, not from natural causes but by the hands of the notorious Dr Harold Shipman. The son, Frank, played by Naylor, has sacrificed his life to be his mother carer. His sister, Georgie, played by the talented Emily Carding, has escaped the role of carer and has led a full life. The tension is obvious and a latency of resentment from Frank.

The second half of the production finds Frank as a mute in a care home 20 years on from his mother’s death. His carer is the work-dodging Justine, played by Carding.  The covid outbreak washes over the care home, with untested hospital patients being admitted to the care home. There is no personal protective equipment (PPE), no testing equipment, and few beds to spare, resulting in chaos at the care home. Throughout this chaos, Justine is driven to the very cliff edge of despair.

Whilst the two themes work, Shipman and covid care homes, I wish Naylor had tackled each one individually and not conjoined them. Whilst there is commonality between the two – end of life care, palliative care, medicinal oversight and moral judgement – for me, the joining of the two into one production doesn’t work.

None the less it’s great theatre and both Naylor and Carding are on top acting form.  Let the Bodies Pile is well worth going to see.


Let the Bodies Pile – Venue 14 – Gilded Balloon Teviot – Dinning – 16:00 – find out more at

Read more reviews on Scottish Field’s Fringe pages.

Plus, don’t miss the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.