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Death becomes her: A Brief List Of Everyone Who Died @finborough

For a natural process, death is not a topic that comes up naturally for people. We ask how people are doing but expect the response to be “I’m great”, not “I’m not dead yet”. And so for the main character in A Brief List of Everyone Who Died, Graciela has a death issue. Starting with when she was five and found out only after the matter that her parents had her beloved dog euthanised. So Graciela decides that nobody she loves will die from then on. And so this piece becomes a fruitless attempt at how she spends her life trying to avoid death while it is all around her. It’s currently having its world premiere  at the Finborough Theatre . As the play title suggests, it is a brief list of life moments where death and life intervene for the main character, from the passing of relatives, cancer, suicides, accidents and the loss of parents. Playwright Jacob Marx Rice plots the critical moments of the lives of these characters through their passing or the passing of those around them. Howeve

Eat it up: Mumburger @ORLTheatre

If barbecues and eating bring people together, Mumburger takes it to a new level in dealing with death and loss. Currently playing at the Old Red Lion Theatre  Sarah Kosar's take on death, family and meat is funny and thought-provoking. And a little off-putting if you're squeamish.

Mum's dead. She got hit by a truck on the M25. The two people she left behind - a father and daughter are grieving. There are the usual funeral plans and picking up relatives from the airport. But there is also the arrival of a brown package of meat patties to deal with.

Did their mum arrange for them to be delivered on her death, knowing full well that unlike her they were only part-time vegetarians? Or are they symbolic of something more? 

Rosie Wyatt and Andrew Frame as the grieving father and daughter make the surreal believable. She recites poetry and he reminisces about a film from the nineties. Both are lost but connect over a love for barbecued food. 

And there is some on-stage cooking. The smell of burnt meat wafts through the intimate space of the Old Red Lion Theatre. Two burgers are cooked with a blow torch. Vegans (or burger lovers who have come to the theatre on an empty stomach) beware.

The choice to have live blowtorched burgers tends to distract from the text. Instead of focussing on the action you keeping thinking, "Surely they aren't going to eat that?" 

Perhaps a more mundane setting such as a kitchen might have been better. But with observations on the ubiquity of social media, online footage and mass entertainment, there's enough food for thought here in Kosar's text, and combined with some slick projections, gives the piece its impact. 

Directed by Tommo Fowler, Mumburger is at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 22 July. 


Photos by Lidia Crisafulli

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