Camden Fringe 2019: Death Suits You at Theatro Technis
Birth and death are the two inevitable markers of human existence: fact. So, when faced with a play entitled Death Suits You curiosity filled the audience of the Theatro Technis. Despite death being a typically morbid and sometimes taboo subject, this musical exploration of the subject is thoroughly enlightening and thought provoking. Sam Hooper, with excellent direction from Gabrielle Scawthorn, confronts death head on and the outcome is charming.
In the unearthing of this topic, Hooper stars in a one-man show by personifying death. This physical and darkly comedic piece unveils the lighter side of this sensitive subject as we are taken on a journey with Death and are told how, with detailed planning, every death is carried out and that this process is not only a natural inevitable, but a creative one.
The character of Death retells eight stories through strongly choreographed physical sequences and song, which are heightened by either a well-suited soundscape or lighting state. From the first moment, Hooper is captivating and immediately breaks the fourth wall, thus creating an intimate relationship between the audience and actor. This is a clever choice, playing into the fact that death is an intimate and traditionally touchy subject – Hooper’s characterisation is inviting, not at all threatening.
The monologue created for the character of Death is challenging and fast, a constant stream of consciousness that the audience can’t get enough of. The actor manages to keep us engaged from start to finish and controls the dialogue with good peaks and troughs, and a lovely rhythmic nature. His portrayal feels somewhat akin to a successful salesman who adores his job (but not the sleazy kind).
Like in many Shakespearean plays, particularly Hamlet, Death showcases his uncontrollable obsession with the idea of it, he allows it to plague and consume him, emphasised through the highly choreographed physical interludes. Hooper showcases his strong contemporary dance skills when retelling the eight stories of the planned deaths for people throughout the years. These tales are all incredibly topical, elevating this play to a new level. One notable interlude sees the performer rap the recollection of a woman who is mentally unstable, accompanied by the beating of a drum as he slowly loses control, to replicate the woman’s mental decline.
Reminiscent of the musical numbers in Spring Awakening, the lyrics and score are fun and quirky, delivered with spot-on vocals. Though formulaic in structure, every minute of Death Suits You is intriguing and surprising. The cast and crew ensure this play is fluid and spotless with constant laughs – a must-see at this year’s Camden Fringe.
Death Suits You is at Theatro Technis from 19th until 25th August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information about Camden Fringe 2019 visit the festival website here.