This is the Funeral of Your Life – Project Arts Centre – Review
Louise White Presents – This is the Funeral of Your Life
Dates: 03 Nov – 11 Nov – Show Time: 7.45pm
As you enter the theatre you are moved to another time and place. There is a curtain along one wall and a nondescript beige carpet on the floor. At one side of the stage, Michelle O’Rourke plays keyboard versions of popular songs in a black dress. The mood is sedate and even reverential. The stage is a recreation of a funeral home, a place designed to provide a moment of peace and calm at a difficult time.
This is a new production by Louise White that aims to take a look at funerals in Ireland. Louise is a Dublin based theatre maker that won the Spirit of the Fringe award for her 2013 show ‘Way Back Home’. She also produced ‘Mother You’ in 2015, again in the Fringe Festival, which looked at the Abbeyleix Bog Project. This new production is a response to the recent death of her Father. It deals with funerals themselves and the sense of ceremony and ritual they provide.
While death is certainly part of the production, it is not dwelt on. The two main protagonists of the piece are Philip Connaughton and Lucy Miller and they interact with the audience throughout; no fourth wall is provided! The other member of the team is Mezzo-Soprano Michelle O’Rourke, who sings and plays keyboard to provide a soundtrack to the evening. Connaughton is trained as a dancer and does show his skills on a number of occasions, even giving a ‘dance of death’ at one point!
There is audience participation throughout and some are asked to join the cast on stage. There is little to be afraid of and they do not demand too much from those who leave their seats. There is a segmented feel, as we see the various stages or events around a funeral. The production has a light and humorous touch and never fully explores the darker side of the subject matter, for better or worse. There is no discussion on loss or the void left behind for those that remain. The most enjoyable moments are those that deal with the sense of community that Irish funerals provide, the sandwich making and the tea drinking. This is a good natured production that is not as dark as the title sounds.
Director and Creator: Louise White
Set Designer: Lian Bell
Lighting Designer: Sarah Jane Shiels
Costume Designer: Sarah Bacon
Dramaturg: Gary Keegan
Sound Designer: Jack Cawley
Cast: Philip Connaughton, Lucy Miller, Michelle O’Rourke
Production Manager: Rob Furey
Producer: Joanna Crawley
PR Manager: Christine Monk