A former undertaker and an artist get together to present a delightful take on the subject that many people shy away from. Let’s hope this continues to demystify the D-word in all its manifestations. The Director is one of two shows playing at the Art House, North Melbourne Town Hall, Victoria.
Mere Mortals is the working title for two plays focusing on the concept of morality, living, dying, and everything in between.
“Across museums, film – and even in our own state legal system’s changes towards dying with dignity – death is a hot subject right now,” said Arts House Artistic Director, Emily Sexton.
“Yet in an increasingly secular Australia, it remains a taboo and shocking event. Mere Mortals sees artists explore this topic from a range of angles through a series of informative and expansive works designed to illuminate the darkest times,” said Sexton.
Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! is a simple but paper-fine portrait of a timeless trio: a love triangle cursed to eternal life without eternal youth, in an age where death and the forgotten art of grieving have been medicalised out of existence. Flagship UK theatre company, Ridiculusmus (The Eradication of Schizophrenia in Western Lapland; Give Me Your Love), returns to Arts House to reclaim humankind’s last taboo from its imminent eradication. Indie theatre legends, David Woods and Jon Haynes project into 120-year-old versions of themselves in a seriously funny work about hanging on, dying and grieving, played at 33rpm. Amid fumbling, daily rounds of coffee, call centres and cat food, their rants, dribbles, pills and cough bombs litter an ambling blend of symbolist mysticism and synesthesia that has the fear of an ageing population in its sights and oozes with the positivity of elderhood and good deaths.
The Director is a bold new performance starring charismatic ex-funeral director of 21 years, Scott Turnbull, and artist Lara Thoms. Taking up a universal experience and taboo topic, Turnbull and Thoms demystify, expose and expand elements of the death industry, using humour and first-hand knowledge to dig a little deeper on what happens after we go. Nothing is off limits, including the smell of a crematorium, the tools of the mortuary, and driving tractors into a funeral chapel. At a time when dying costs an average of $10,000 and funerals happen within a week, death can seem like a very expensive drive-thru meal. Blurring the roles of funeral director and theatre director, Thoms and Turnbull ask each other to perform tasks, share knowledge and give feedback on each other’s actions. Balancing macabre reality, playfulness and the tragic elements of death, the result is a spiky, funny and invigorating performance.
Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! – 20–25 Nov 2018; The Director – 21 Nov–2 Dec 2018
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne
Tickets$25 – $35 (plus transaction fee)