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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

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. However, it’s done with touches of humour and tenderness. Over 90 minutes, the fragments come together as a thoughtful, if at times, emotional journey. 

The cast is particularly engaging as they move between playing family members, lovers and other characters in the life of Graciela. Vivia Font, as Graciela, is lively and engaging as she captures the different life stages of our main character. Siphiwo Mahlentle stands out as two characters - first, her lost best friend, and later her wise adopted son.

Exploring the inevitable stage of life may not be for everyone’s taste. There was even an audience member letting out a death-rattling scene which I initially mistook for being part of the show since members of the cast sit in the audience. However, it is a reflective and thoughtful exploration of life and death. Although it might even be a tad optimistic about the longevity of the characters given current life expectancy rates.

A Brief List of Everyone Who Died is directed by Alex Howarth at the Finborough Theatre until 10 June. Check the website for post show discussions on 3 and 8 June as well.


Photos by Philm

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