Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Death is no longer a moment. It’s a process. A process that can be reversed. Two friends, talking (and singing) about what happens when we die, how we think about dying and, most importantly, how some of us might be brought back. Performed by Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe, Am I Dead Yet? is filled with stories and songs about death and dying and about how we don’t talk about it enough.
Am I Dead Yet is a sort of death cabaret, an attempt to look at death more closely, more honestly, with a few songs thrown in to help the medicine go down. It hopes to force us, the audience, to face up to our inevitable deaths with a bit more discussion and openness, with the aim that some of the taboo and possibly fear might be taken away.
Performed by Chris Thorpe and Jon Spooner, the show is a collection of scenes, stories and songs that interweave, and take a look at death in its different forms, including a future-view of death that has us regenerating indefinitely in a rather exhausting seeming way.
It is a show that also aims to educate, informing us of the statistical likelihood of survival if someone does chest compressions on you when your heart stops, compared to if they don’t. Suffice to say, it’s a good thing to do them, and they even had the front of house manager come and demonstrate to us on a resuscitation doll exactly how we might do such a thing.
Thorpe and Spooner have a very good and watchable onstage rapport. The storytelling they do (one about a man getting hit by a train, and another about a girl falling into a frozen pond) is vibrant and pacy, with Chris Thorpe’s intense and poetic style ringing out loud and clear.
This is an interesting piece, and the use of songs is enjoyable and ensures the mood stays light around this potentially distressing subject. However, this does feel more like a collection of scenes than a very cohesive piece, and for a show aiming to interrogate our attitudes towards death, it feels surprisingly light, and I think they could have pushed things a bit further and challenged the audience’s thinking a little more.
The end of the show is a highlight, with postcards the audience have filled in before the start being scattered around the stage. As Chris plays, Jon sings, and we learn how each member of the audience believes they will die, through a ditty which towards the end we are all encouraged to join in. It is a funny scene, and so therefore perhaps the lads have achieved their aim; here we are tittering at people’s predictions of dying, and humming the refrain ‘when I die’ as we walk out of the theatre.