Remembering those who came before us
By Myron My
The first thing to note about The Dead Ones, now playing at Theatreworks as part of Midsumma Festival, is that this is not like any other performance. There is no acting, there are no characters and there is no ‘script’. The Dead Ones is a presentation, a homage of sorts in which Margie Fischer retells the life of her family, now that she is the last remaining member of it.
Whilst Fischer speaks to us, there is a photo slideshow of her family and the places she describes playing prominently centre stage. Putting faces to the names makes this seem all the more real (even though it already is) and Fischer’s stories seek to strike a more poignant note with the audience.
The thing that disappointed me about The Dead Ones was the level of detachment. Fischer is sharing some deeply moving and personal moments of her life yet I felt little of the emotional connection to what she was saying which I think was pivotal to a piece such as this. I felt in the performance style and language there was a real lack of dramatic rhetoric being utilized.
At times we kept switching from one period of time to another without warning and it seemed as if there were moments where we had already heard particular stories. There was a wealth of tales mentioned about which I – and I’m sure the rest of the audience – would have loved to hear more but it felt like we skimmed the surface of many of these due to the rapid nature of the changes in narrative direction.
Fortunately, these moments don’t detract too much from Fischer’s over-arching and admirable theme of honoring those we have met; those who have lived before us. It was very difficult to not simply go away inside myself and get lost in thinking about the love and loss I have experienced over the years, and the final minutes of The Dead Ones therefore do achieve the show’s goal in being particularly bittersweet and touching.
Venue: Theatreworks, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Season: Until 3 February | Tues – Sat 7:30pm & 2pm Sat & 5pm Sun
Tickets: $28 Full | $22 Conc
Bookings: 9534 3388 or http://www.theatreworks.org.au