How to Be Immortal at the Soho Theatre
A creative interpretation of what we leave behind when we die, Kirsty Housley’s How to Be Immortal by Mira Dovreni combines fact, drama, live music and humour to illustrate the realities we must all eventually face.
Shifting between multiple interlaced story lines, it’s easy to see that Deborah’s mother made a difference in the world. Even after her death in 1951, Henrietta Lack’s cells continue to grow, allowing for medical research and breakthroughs that have changed the way we look at certain diseases. And yet, Deborah and the rest of her family have been left in the dark about her crucial contribution to scientific development, until now.
Meanwhile, Rosa endures a great deal of pain with the recent death of her boyfriend Mick to cancer. Struggling to cope with the responsibilities of taking care of their newborn child and the grieving process, Rosa has become a shell of her former self, in constant remembrance of who she has lost.
Starring Anna-Helena McClean, John McKeever and Clare Perkins, the two latter are dynamic and realistic, taking on various roles and wholeheartedly convincing the audience of each individual persona.
Perkins is confident, well spoken and bright as she presents findings on cell research at a symposium in one moment and becomes feisty, defensive and guarded as Deborah, opening up about the mother she barely knew.
McKeever is equally as versatile as he charmingly wins over young Rosa as Mick with his good humour and a catching zest for life in one scene, then transforms into the studious scientist George Gey in a lab coat, professionally explaining the results of new scientific testing.
Despite engaging cast performances and detailed sets and effects that thoughtfully establish the tone of each scene, the story overall lacks imagination. The message conveyed is comforting, but the plot points are somewhat simple and predictable. Furthermore, with the underdevelopment of some key characters like Rosa, it’s difficult to become invested in her growth as a character. Nevertheless, touching subject matter and uplifting themes will temperately keep your attention.
How to Be Immortal is at Soho Theatre until 8th March 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.