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by | Sep 11, 2023 | Review | 0 comments

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


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