Bereavement: The Musical

Wed 8th – Sat 11th February 2012

reviews

Divya R

at 09:30 on 9th Feb 2012

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Bereavement: The Musical illustrated grief from the perspectives of six people in mourning, including a father who lost his wife, children who lost a parent, and siblings who lost a brother or sister. The play opens with the six of them at a funeral, then moves into individual vignettes about each character. The first solo song, sung impressively by Rosie Brown, was “I Don’t Need Therapy.” Rosie responds to a friend’s somewhat pushy concern with a song about how she does not need therapy; she is fine. This opening song shows the audience the nature of the play—semi-serious, with bits of hilarity thrown in. Rosie interrupts her own song by yelling “baggage!” periodically.

The next song is the completely hilarious “Is It Wrong to Have a Wank When Your Mum’s Dead,” sung by Will Karani. The composers/writers, Jeff Carpenter and Mairin O’Hagan, reveal their brilliance here. Will ponders when it is appropriate to move on with life and enjoy oneself, but rather than do this through a sad song, Carpenter and O’Hagan write one in which he can get this sombre point across through laughter.

Joey Akubeze follows, playing a father who has just lost his wife. He questions whether he can adequately raise their child. Joey acts and sings very impressively, giving an impassioned and heartbreaking portrayal of a grieving, self-doubting parent.

Jess Peet continues the music as a girl looking for closeness through physical contact. She sings about wanting to “get her slut on” and her fear that others believe she is coping inadequately.

Ryan Howard also gives an impressive performance with the poignant “She’s Not Always on my Mind.” He has a lovely voice. And Martha May Bennett gives an interesting take on grief through the eyes of a vicar.

Bereavement’s minimal set and perfect lighting cues allowed the actors to really shine. They were all incredibly talented singers, and although the cast was only six strong, it felt like a much fuller, larger cast. The play ends with a gorgeous six-part harmony. The singers were all extremely talented, an their voices blended like butter. Bereavement is worth going to just for that 10-second harmony.

Bereavement allowed me to reflect on my own experiences with grief, and I found it to be an accurate, entirely inoffensive portrayal of this complicated emotion. Their focus on others’ perception of what is an appropriate way to grieve, how no one really knows what they’re doing, and how everyone feels misunderstood, really resonated true. Bereavement was a sensitive, poignant portrayal of grief with the perfect balance of humour and seriousness.

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