Thursday 7 December 2023

FUNeral: THEATRE REVIEW

WHAT: FUNeral
WHEN: 7 - 9 December 2023
WHERE: The Motley Bauhaus
WRITTEN & PERFORMED BY: Ruby Rawlings and Clare Taylor

Clare Taylor and Ruby Rawlings

What do Vanessa Amarossi and Death have in common? Absolutely everybody! Wocka, wocka wocka!

Well, actually, they also have the creative team of Clare Taylor and Ruby Rawlings in common. These two feisty women take Death head on with all the energy of a millennial pop star in FUNeral, playing this week for three shows only at The Motley Bauhaus.

Terry Pratchett's character Death has joined the digital age and is using their PowerPoint skills to interlope on a pair of women determined to cheat him of his prizes. Death always turns up early - they are a dedicated soul - and at FUNeral they wait with all of us for the show to begin. Just as they are about to give up Rawlings and Taylor burst onto the stage with high energy lip synching and eventually become aware that another presence is sharing their stage. There is a brief moment of mistaken identities, but then it is a head on battle despite humanities dismal record of nil-all. 

Taylor and Rawlings are determined to help us all learn how to live longer despite an insinuation by that dark demon that there is not much time left for them. Poo-pooing the well-researched Yale guide to a long healthy life, this enterprising pair have come up with their own step by step plan to stay alive which is a whole lot more fun even if it hasn't been published in a peer reviewed journal...yet.

FUNeral is a fun journey traversing a terrain which flits between surreal imaginings, a rather dubious TEDX session, and heart felt fears and truths. FUNeral was originally conceived during the height of the pandemic and Rawlings and Taylor reveal all the things which are most precious to them and would miss should Death visit their worlds. It ends with us all having a moment we can share the most precious things in our own lives. It is always magical to take those moments to share and honour the things we love and FUNeral lets us do that amongst a whole lot of laughter and fantasy.

Taylor and Rawlings are VCA Company 2020 and whilst we hear a lot about how hard it was for that graduating year because of lockdowns, one thing we don't talk about a lot, is just how good that cohort is working with technology - a skill they had to master in that environment. What makes FUNeral work is how easily these two actors interact with the most basic PowerPoint presentation ever made. Death is real, and in the room with us - an invisible puppet who pushes and pulls and plays with just as much life as the women. And they are funny!

I have to admit that I found it hard to really care about the women's fears of what they might lose if someone dies - it seems like a lot of wasted energy to me - but I really loved the message of cherishing what is most precious to us all. FUNeral is a sweet, high energy and hilarious investigation of how to think about living rather than dying.

4 Stars

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