Last night, Unlimited Theatre spent nearly an hour exploring the process of death onstage, and it was, at the same time, both everything and nothing like I expected.
Am I Dead Yet?, created and performed by Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe, is an examination of the process of death, how people can be brought back from the dead, and what should even count as death in an age where science and machines can perform incredible miracles.
The opening energetic dance to Mötley Crüe in white vests and boxers was slightly off-putting and perhaps a little clichéd, but once the show properly began it settled into a warm, informative, and gently compelling performance.
Using a mixture of stories, facts, figures, and songs, even including a CPR demonstration and a song improvised from audience suggestion cards, Spooner and Thorpe seamlessly guided the audience through their show. The production was imaginative, well-informed, humorously yet sensitively handled, and, despite the subject matter, never too overwhelming. I laughed, and at times I was very close to tears, yet never did I feel that I was in anything other than two pairs of very safe hands. Productions like these can go very wrong, turning crass or flippant, but this was never the case here; Spooner and Thorpe are to be commended for their delicate handling of possibly the most sensitive subject imaginable.
If you do get the opportunity to see this incredible and thought-provoking show, I would suggest sticking around for the interesting post-show discussion, if you can. There are other activities connected to the show, including a Death Cafe (where people can gather to discuss death and eat cake). Death is a taboo subject in this country and should be more openly discussed, and performances like this are a fantastic opportunity to begin a dialogue on this most universal of human experiences.
Reviewer: Hannah Torbitt
Reviewed: 22nd October 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★★