Tickets are priced at £14, with each evening performance scheduled for 8pm. There is a further matinee performance of The Death Show at 2:30pm on Saturday 27th January, with a 30min panel discussion held after the performance with members of BrumYODO – ‘a community collective aiming to encourage open and honest conversations about death and dying.’
Created by Birmingham based ‘thanatophobes’ (Google it) and independent theatre makers, Lucy Nicholls and Antonia Beck, The Death Show ‘is a darkly comic journey of discovery and contemplation, exploring our universal relationships with death and dying’.
An original new production tackling the oldest subject known to humanity (…perhaps the second oldest, after sex) the creative duo spent time at local hospices – talking to both patients and practitioners, shadowing undertakers and training with celebrants. Coming ‘face to face’ with the subject of death, Nicholls and Beck then penned The Death Show – a stage play, written for two protagonists as they encourage an audience ‘to celebrate their own mortality. To laugh, cry, stick two fingers up at the grim reaper and discover why talking about death is ultimately life affirming.’
For a man who thinks about death all, the, freaking, time, this is a welcome addition to a conversation that is seldom had, yet seldom more important to have. After all, in the words of another curly haired obnoxious drunk, ‘no one here gets out alive’. And a bit of constructive criticism of how society can hide, especially from the inevitable, is rarely a bad thing.
However my fear (other than the Christian right controlling the afterlife) is that we get distracted by funerals. Death and the ceremony of remembering the dead are, to me, separate issues – both ones that need confidently addressing in modern times, but separate none the less. Telling people I want to be buried under a plum tree will not save my soul.
In 2018 – the year of whatever lord or secular crutch you so choose to cling to – we live in an age of tacit denial, sure, but also with the most advanced resources and references in recorded history. With the World Wide Web, never before has the human species been able to share stories and information with such a wide and easy reach.
Studies have been conducted across the globe into cardiac arrest, near death experiences and the transition of ‘alive’ to ‘dead’ – as we currently call the two states of being. Indeed, Dr Sam Parnia was the lead author on the AWARE study at the University of Southampton, which ran from 2008 to 2014 and ‘examined the broad range of mental experiences in relation to death’ from over 2000 patients in the UK, US and Austria. Every British tabloid has published stories on near death experiences, scientifically researched or otherwise, so every British tabloid reader is aware of the discussion. There’s even a Wikipedia entry on the ‘Afterlife’.
But art can so often be a healthier catalyst to conversation, especially when we try to address/understand the darker fringes or ‘taboo’ subjects of the human endevour. It allows us to take a more detached delve into frightening waters, with the hope of finding answers and perhaps even solace. And as questions go, it doesn’t get more visceral than ‘what happens when you die?’
How long was that panel discussion again…?
The Death Show
The Death Show runs at the Birmingham REP (The Door) from 26th to 27th January – as presented by Outer Circle Arts. For direct event info, including full programme times, venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/the-death-show
For more on The Death Show, visit www.thedeathshow.co.uk
For more from the Birmingham REP, including full production listings and online ticket sales, visit www.birmingham-rep.co.uk
For more on Outer Circle Arts, visit www.outercirclearts.co.uk
For more from BrumYODO, visit www.brumyodo.org.uk