Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer, March 8, 2018 ****


THEATRE
Written by Bryony Kimmings & Brian Lobel with Kirsty Housley
Produced by Complicit√© (UK) 
At Malthouse Theatre until March 18, 2018
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on March 8, 2018
Stars:****

Review also published in Herald Sun Arts/Lifestyle online on Fri Mach 9, 2018 & later in print. (Date TBC). KH
Bryony Kimmings, Lara Veitch, Lottie Vallis, Eva Alexander_ Photo by Mark Douet
You’ll probably smile or even laugh at the beginning of Bryony Kimmings' peculiar narrative and musical exploration of cancer, but by the end you'll be dripping with tears, so bring tissues.

A Pacifist's Guide to the War on Cancer begins gently, messily and without confrontation, with Kimmings describing how she pitched her idea for a musical about cancer to UK Theatre company, Complicité, then developed the play with research, patient interviews and earnest tomes about cancer.

Pulsating, gyrating rock tunes about cancer, performed by four versatile actor-musicians (Eva Alexander, Gemma Storr, Lottie Vallis, Elexi Walker), pepper the excerpts of interviews with cancer sufferers and quotes from experts.

The show, directed by Kirsty Housley, then cunningly morphs into a more confronting, profoundly emotional and personal experience, when Kimmings introduces on stage Lara Veitch, a real cancer victim whose life is constantly threatened with returning cancer.

The loud and wacky songs disappear when we listen to Veitch’s stories of repeated bouts of cancer and ruinous chemotherapy that leave her bedridden and wretched.

As Kimmings and her cast discover, there is no guide to deal with cancer, no hard and fast rules, no fixed pathway or sage advice to fit all situations; every person's experience is different.

Most audience members will have some connection with cancer, and will be thinking of those close to them who are living with cancer or who have passed away.

Kimmings own understanding of what she calls ‘The Kingdom of the Sick’ expands when she confronts a family illness of a different kind.

This show is not for the faint-hearted, and it is a stark reminder that cancer is a beast that leaves people sick, weak, angry and despairing, and it doesn't make heroes of its sufferers or necessarily make you a better person.

By Kate Herbert 

Originally a co-production with the National Theatre in association with HOME Manchester.

WRITTEN BY / Bryony Kimmings and Brian Lobel with Kirsty Housley
MUSIC BY / Tom Parkinson
DIRECTED BYKirsty Housley 
CAST / Eva Alexander, Bryony Kimmings, Gemma Storr, Lottie Vallis, Lara Veitch, Elexi Walker
SET & COSTUME DESIGN / Lucy Osborne
CHOREOGRAPHY / Sarah Blanc
LIGHTING DESIGN / Marec Joyce
SOUND DESIGN / Lewis Gibson
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR / Michael Keyamo

ORIGINAL COSTUME DESIGN / Christina Cunningham
ORIGINAL LIGHTING DESIGN / Paul Anderson
ORIGINAL MUSIC DIRECTOR / Marc Tritschler
ORIGINAL CHOREOGRAPHY / Lizzi Gee
 

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