dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Performers ask us to ponder death and dying
Writers and performers Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe come together to create a one hour dialogue and musing on the subject of death.
In doing so they relate stories, break out in song, pose questions and even have a doctor on hand to give a quick demonstration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. They tackle the thorny subject of medical intervention in keeping someone alive when they would otherwise have died and conclude that eventually we will reach a point where nobody dies from medical causes.
If this all sounds a bit deep in some ways it is – and in some ways it isn't. As the two discuss the story of Amy, a child who was almost miraculously saved from death, and as they ponder the effects of clearing up after a body on a railway line incident there are a good many profound questions asked. But the interaction between the two and not least the addition of a few zany songs then veers the show onto less serious ground.
In an hour long show, there's a little too much time spent on the three stories. Their lengthy and sometimes repetitive narration risks losing the attention of the audience – and both Spooner and Thorpe show they have much more to offer than simply being story-tellers.
The show ends with an inspired piece of audience participation. Before entering the theatre space everyone is asked to respond to the first half of the sentence 'I think I might die…' Spooner and Thorpe then whizz through the responses, turning them into a song and asking the audience to join in the chorus 'I think I might die, I know I'll die.' It's the quirkiness and the charm of the different responses which brings this alive.
Am I Dead Yet?
Produced by Unlimited Theatre and directed by Amy Hodge, Am I Dead Yet? breaks through the nervousness of facing discussions about death head-on. Performed at The Door in Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Am I Dead Yet? certainly couldn't be more timely as it is staged during Dying Matters Week, a national campaign aiming to encourage people to talk openly and honestly about death and dying. Birmingham has a host of events taking place during Dying Matters Week (May 6-14), see here for details.