Theatre Review: She’s Dead shows a realistic look at dealing with death
Should your loved ones have to feel guilt during what is probably already a depressing time when they don’t want to give you the funeral you want versus the funeral they can handle?
In Joe Giordano’s play She’s Dead, making its world premiere at MadLab Theatre, Erin (Mary-Aileen St. Cyr) wants her loved ones to promise they will take care of her death themselves, in a home funeral.
MadLab is experimenting with a three-quarter round set up for this play and it works nicely. You feel more involved in the characters’ lives. It opens in a graveyard with Erin and her boyfriend Sam (Michael Galusick) discussing her eminent death.
St. Cyr delivers her after-life wishes with a bright giddiness that only someone who has become completely fine with their personal situation can express. She and Sam are both young and he is distressed by her requests, but promises to do it. Her mother Judy (Randi Morgan) however, is clearly not fine with an atypical funeral and gets into a shouting match with Erin; only to sadly cave in and say she’ll do whatever Erin wants because she loves her so.
But is that what funerals are all about? Giving the dying person their crazy last wishes? One can have a grandiose idea of what they would like their death to be like, but a better send off would be to just tell your loved ones to do whatever they find comforting.
As the play progresses, we meet Erin and Sam’s friends who help Sam with the funeral. The friends handle some of the tougher duties with laughter until Judy walks in and they feel embarrassed for laughing during such a sad time.
“Sometimes you laugh because things are so awful,” says Sam.
Judy and Sam seem to have a bit of tense relationship that turns into genuine care and concern for each other. Morgan has such a wonderful dry deliver of almost every line she speaks. At Christmastime, she has a present for Sam, an ink pen engraved with ‘To Sam, From Judy.” He expresses a bit of sarcastic delight at the gift, to which she dryly replies, “I had it engraved for free, by my neighbor.”
Maria Ritchey, as friend Addie, has such a quiet calm about her. She’s sad, but she is also a grounding element for Sam when things are really becoming too much for him.
Sam’s method of dealing with the situation, not counting all of the expletives, is to pen a short story about the movie Titanic. In his story, Jack (Erik Sternberger) and Rose (Aran Carr) have discovered prior to the iceberg collision that Jack is to die and they are dealing knowing that. The side-story also serves as comic relief, for Sam and for the audience, from the more serious happenings in real-life. Sternberger and Carr are over the top caricatures that get quite a few laughs from the crowd.
Although it is sad, it is refreshing to watch this group of four friends deal with their friend’s death in a non-traditional way. Mack (Jay Hobson) has also just lost his father, and he seems to be dealing with his friend Erin’s death better than he is with his Dad’s death that involved a traditional funeral at a funeral home.
With She’s Dead, MadLab continues to deliver top-notch theatre with minimal sets and great acting that will leave you wondering about how far to take the planning of your own funeral.
Photo provided by MadLab Theatre.
**Not a family show- She’s Dead includes brief nudity, adult language, and situations
MadLab presents Joe Giordano’s She’s Dead, Fridays and Saturdays, March 9th-23rd, 2013. 8pm. $12 regular admission, $10 students/seniors, $8 MadLab Members. MadLab Theatre is located at 227 N Third St. Visit www.madlab.net for more information.