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.