Young Critics Review 2019 – The Death Show (by Hannah Vernon)
The Death Show
Death. A bit morbid, is it not?
Morbid, macabre, unmentionable – the list of adjectives to describe this natural yet significantly haunting aspect of life continues, almost as long as life itself.
Tuesday evening’s event drew together two self-confessed Thanatophobes, Lucy Nicholls and Antonia Beck, to contemplate their own mortality and, whilst searching to find a solution to their fear, finally found their own true selves.
Opening with audience interaction allowed an establishment for the tone of the performance, where the congregated were asked to write unusual causes of death to be read out. At first, I found this rather odd – without context, I did not understand why such a sensitive subject was being made light of. As the performance continued, however, I was called to a deeper understanding. Death can be obscured, but it still occurs for all living beings. We therefore have a duty, as the forsaken, to not forsake this opportunity, and make our lives worth living.
Death was portrayed ironically throughout, a welcome invitation for the audience because it ensured that, alongside the performers; one could find their own purpose in seeing the value of death in its giving value to life. Jarring juxtaposition of comedy to sadness was bittersweet, enabling the audience to reflect upon their existence without being too overwhelmed by the subject matter. In this way, the experience was a healing process, a period of analysis and acknowledgment for all as it truly explored the purpose of life. I learnt that, though surrounded by laughter, there was a finality and mortality to it all, for life is inevitably finite.
However, the experience was a memorable one because it illustrated that, whilst all things end, fading to oblivion, dispersing to dust, it is those particles of dust, the mundane tasks, our daily lives that give this experience on planet Earth its value.
The pinnacle of the show and its greatest achievement was truth. This was evidenced in the depiction of a hospice, poignant for its honesty in presenting its inhabitants without hope.
It was then, finally, that I discovered the true purpose. It is human to be afraid, to fear the unknown, to feel hopeless when trapped by infirmity, but ultimately this does not and can never undermine the value of life, regardless of how we might feel.
Death might be morbid, but life is so full of opportunity, and so worth living.
By Hannah Vernon (age 17)