publicity photo for Let's Talk About Your DeathI was hoping for an audacious and insightful show about death. What I got was a glib and offensive show about death. In Let’s Talk About Your Death, writer/performer David Johnston plays two characters: Barry, who is the floor manager at the taping of a TV show about mortality, and Dr. Elliot Morris, the exuberant host. We’re in the near future, and a machine has been invented that can scan your hand and tell you with absolute certainty how you will expire. Everybody in the audience gets a little card that reveals how they’ll kick it, and Morris interviews a couple of folks about how they feel about the manner of their demise. From the get-go, the texture of this piece is annoying: Barry keeps trying to hype the audience into hysteria, and Dr. Morris’s over-the-top energy is grating because that’s all there is to it, there’s no fresh spin or original parody. The performance I attended completely hit the skids with the first interview. Morris questioned an audience member I’ll call W and found out that her mother had died 30 years ago of pneumonia. She died alone. Morris/Johnston made no perceivable attempt to compassionately embrace W’s vulnerability. Instead, he kept trying to crack jokes. There’s a section near the end that’s about suicide, but it has no narrative context, no story around it, so the supposed insight that emerges — basically “Embrace the moment” — has zero resonance. As my partner said on the way out, “There’s no truth to it.”

At the Arts Umbrella. Remaining performances on September 11 (7:00 pm), 13 (7:15 pm), 16 (10:50 pm), and 17 (4:15 pm). Tickets

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!