BWW Review: DEATH SUITS YOU, Theatro Technis
Death feels unappreciated. Nobody mentions him during funerals and his work goes unnoticed as "freak accidents" and such. So, he takes the stage to tell his own story.
Sam Hooper and Robert Tripolino write a caustic play-with-songs infused with delicious black humour. Hooper himself is Death: proud of his work and biting, he is a magnetic and versatile presence on stage. A natural-born entertainer, he presents his character as a sardonic individual who loves adding drama to people's demises.
His eyes glimmer with mischief as he recounts how difficult it is always to come up with new ways to end lives and how pleased he is with how original his methods are. As he looks through his files, he picks eight deaths to clarify in detail. The victims span all generations and ages, from simple suicides to complex orchestrations that took years to devise, ultimately touching the chilling notes of school shootings before picking up the mood again and returning to his cheery self.
Poetry, musical numbers, and gorgeous dance pieces deliver the various deceases. The alternating tones of the production are gripping in the elegant morbidness of the show. Their script is nuanced and sophisticated, concealing Death's fascination with human existence under refined irony. Hooper is as precise an actor as he is a dancer, breaking into movement junctures that exude expression and dynamism to then go back to the aplomb required to be Death personified.
His relationship with the audience is instant. He draws them in and goes out of his way to explain his obsession with his own job. Gabrielle Scawthorn's direction makes sure the look of the production keeps the impeccable pace of the writing. The company don't shy away from kick-starting a reflection on the nature of death and the cruelty of men too, with the writers leaving the crowd with a remarkable dose of material to chew on.
After introducing Death as this lovely, funny guy who's been misunderstood throughout the millennia, they allow him to become a fallible entity. External incidents make him lose his grip on his plans and he, too, mourns the death of the innocent. His attraction to human life makes him a benevolent manifestation who's as infatuated with his fatal deeds as he is with the notion of keeping people alive beyond their passing.
Death Suits You is an exquisitely complex mix of light and darkness, with Hooper shining as both writer and performer.