If the only certain thing in life is death and taxes, what does it mean for humanity when death becomes less of a certainty and more of an inconvenience? For some of us, the thought of death is the stunning climax to a long-lived life, an event taking place somewhere in the future. But as Unlimited Theatre points out, for some of us death is an inconvenient event that can occur randomly throughout life… sometimes on multiple occasions!
Created by Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe, in collaboration with Dr Andy Lockey Am I Dead Yet examines the ever-changing nature of death and the difference between definitive and irreversible death, and temporary death. Pointing out that death is more of a process than an event, the piece explores our reactions towards mortality and how these affect the way we live our lives.
If this is all sounding fairly morbid then you can rest assured the piece is far from a stoic discussion of semi-permanence and much more of an exploratory cabaret involving audience participation and musical interludes. That said, in its attempt to achieve vibrancy and spontaneity the piece feels somewhat disjointed at times and makes it difficult to establish a lasting connection with the various threads of the narrative.
Despite the occasional technical difficulty, Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe exhibit boundless energy and enthusiasm and there are certainly several moments of extreme poignancy and sincerity that deliver in spades, especially the storytelling. But while the grand concept appears to be brimming with intrigue, the execution doesn’t quite deliver with the same intensity and there are a number of instances where the energy drops.
All that aside, the production certainly goes out with a bang, with the final scene showcasing the ingenuity and versatility of both performers as they are thrown into a somewhat risky and improvised finale. As the audience are rallied in song to celebrate our predictions for our own personal demise, one finds oneself caught up in the existentialism of the piece and, in this moment, the true vision of the production hits its mark squarely.
As a whole, the production is thought-provoking and certainly triggers a level of introspection and for those game to try something different, definitely worth a look! Be warned though, that song will be stuck in your head for quite some time…
Review by Casandra Griffin
Inspired by contemporary advances in resuscitation practice that has seen medical professionals bring people back to life up to six hours after their heart stops beating with no neurological damage or long-lasting impact, Unlimited co-founders and Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe present a funny and moving look at the social, political and ethical implications of these extraordinary medical advancements. Created in collaboration with emergency care doctor and secretary of the Resuscitation Council UK Dr Andy Lockey, Am I Dead Yet? is filled with songs, stories and a live demonstration of CPR techniques to discuss death and how resuscitation changes the narrative.
Medical professionals are predicting that in the near future we’ll be resuscitating patients many hours or even days after the heart stops beating. Death is increasingly understood as a process rather than a moment – a process that can be reversed with timely intervention.
Running Time: 60 minutes | Suitable for ages 14+
Written and Performed by Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe Directed by Amy Hodge
Designed by Takis Lighting Design by Katherine Williams
Sound Design by Pete Malkin Created in consultation with Dr Andy Lockey
Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE