Finding words about death
By Myron My
There is a familiar smell in the air as I take my seat at Arts House theatre space in North Melbourne Town Hall. Even though I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, it feels like rain on a cold, wet night with mist and fog in the air, which subsequently fits in poignantly with the show I am about to see: the show about death. In Endings, Tamara Saulwick explores our attempts to stay connected with loved ones after they have passed away.
Saulwick explores this concept in a very intimate setting with pre-recorded conversations with people who have lost loved ones as well as opening up about the death of her own father. These recordings and conversations describe not only the moments leading up to the death but the thoughts and actions immediately following. One person mentions photographing the deceased with family members and another recalls the shock of hospital staff at a request to bathe the deceased.
For those who have been affected by death, there are many emotions to be felt, and while most of the show deals with the nostalgia and sadness of death (the more ‘gentle’ of emotions), Saulwick also captures the fear and terror perfectly in a scene that, even though it lasts just seconds, lingers on for quite some time after.
There are numerous poignant moments in Endings, including the musical interludes by Paddy Mann. His songs are heartfelt yet simple with a soothing voice that brought up my own experiences of death and memories that seemed long forgotten. Approaching the seven-year anniversary of my mother’s passing, I couldn’t help but get a little emotional and once the lights came up at the end of the show, it was clear I was not the only one.
Speaking of lights, the lighting set and design by Ben Cobham is perfectly executed in Endings, capturing the profound mood and the themes of the show flawlessly. Spotlights appear on the performers, swinging lights cast shadows over the set pieces and the way the lights themselves move feels like they are spirits themselves, floating on stage.
Everyone will die. It is inevitable, yet it is also one of the most difficult things people can face. It comes as a surprise when death happens, as if we were supposed to be spared from this experience. Endings reminds us how to keep the memory and the stories we’ve shared with these people alive. It is the perfect tribute for anyone who has ever lost somebody they loved.
Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne
Season: Until 17 May | Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Sat 2pm, Sun 5pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: Arts House