Welcome to Anna Morgan-Jones' Zoom webinar. She is a Cardiff undertaker--- award winning no less-- who can see the profit in death. She runs Joyful Endings, a funeral service that aims to put the celebratory back into death, and the good news is that she is offering you the chance to get a slice of the profit for just £2,999 and a six per cent yearly royalty. What could possibly go wrong? After all this is a pandemic proof business.
Rhiannon Boyle’s Kill Me Now (Summerhall Livestreaming), an interactive play for Welsh new writing company, Dirty Protest, was created especially for the Zoom platform, and comes complete with autocue glitches, and the chance to join in on the chat function.
But it soon becomes clear that Anna is not quite the grief guru that she styles herself and she still hasn’t got over the death of her dad some years ago. Maybe she’s not being entirely honest when she talks about his degenerative illness. It turns out that Anna is just as awkward about talking about death and grief as the rest of us.
Kill Me Now
It’s a nice idea, and it is good to see a new writing company thinking about form and distribution, and also being inventive in the way its uses technology as a tool. I just wish the satire was a wee bit sharper. If it was it would make the shift in tone which takes the comedy into deeper and darker territory far more effective. As it is, it’s fun but not quite as fun as really good wake.
From Northern Ireland comes Two Fingers Up (also Summerhall), a riotously enjoyable female three-hander about Northern Ireland’s woefully inadequate provision for teaching children about sex, and the impact that has on young women growing up.
From the primary school “health talk” to self-exploration of their own bodies, this playful show follows Sharon, Leah and Hayley as they encounter misinformation, bias and embarrassment and parents and teachers’ unwillingness to be upfront and truthful. It turns out that even Barbie Dolls have been lying to them, and that “saving yourself for god” is no fun at all. But then neither are early sexual fumblings either. Maybe like coffee, they are an acquired taste.
The show begins with a montage of news footage including a young Bernadette Devlin questioning a male TV interviewer’s accusation she is behaving in an unladylike fashion. As the title might suggest there is absolutely nothing ladylike about this show which points up the fact that ignorance is never bliss. More than that, it is always girls not boys, women not men, who are blamed and shamed when we talk (or fail to talk) honestly and openly about sex.
Two Fingers Up
Over on the C Arts Digital platform as part of C Venues you can catch A Place to Fall to Pieces, a spoken word/folk music show created by sisters Isobel and Anna Hughes. At its heart this is a piece about home and what that means in a changing world, but this is a show stalked by death and half remembered wonder tales and myths.
There is a howling devil dog with red eyes and a lonely heart, a ship that may—or may not—take a town to paradise, a girl who lives in the pines and speaks the language of birds, and a woman encountered on a sea-facing headland who has seen love but cannot touch it.
There is definitely magic here, and often beauty too. The music is always an utter joy, and words and sounds are deftly knitted into each other. Both sisters have presence. But the writing is too dense, the show needs both dramaturgical and directorial eyes to give more shape, less stasis and greater drama. And it is way, way too long and not brilliantly filmed.
But despite all these difficulties, there is something lurking in its bones that speaks of ancient things and modern concerns, and with more work, more streamlining and sculpting this fledgling piece might yet frustrate less and captivate more.
Cover image from A Place to Fall to Pieces.