The production ran from 13 to 14 May

By: May. 17, 2024
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This review contains references to depression, panic attacks, suicide and sexual assault. 

“I don’t believe in God, but I believe in Leonard Cohen

The story of Avital Ash: Workshops Her Suicide Note begins with some context for the audience. Ash’s mother committed suicide when Ash was only an infant and her father remarried, never telling his daughter that her mother was not actually her birth mother. Ash grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Florida, so sheltered from the rest of the world that she did not even know who Jesus was, only knowing about him from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.

Ash has decided to write her own suicide note, wanting to leave one behind as her mother did not. We as the audience are invited to assist her in writing several drafts, with one audience member in particular taking on the role of the scribe, being called upon when needed by Ash. While Ash is writing her suicide note, she has the scribe writing down reasons to live, drawing quite the opposite picture to what she speaks of. She asks the audience to give her some examples of things to live for, including song lyrics favourite animals and even personal porn preferences (which leads to some great audience interaction moments). 

This show is definitely not for everyone, especially those who are currently struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. I would recommend going into the show knowing your limits on what you are able to hear in terms of trauma and mental health issues as, while it is an enjoyable and funny show, limits are pushed that audience members may not be comfortable with. Some of these subjects include depression, panic attacks, suicide and sexual assault. 

However, that is not to say that this isn’t a comedy show. Ash has a fantastic sense of dark humour, knowing where she is able to push the audience to laugh at something they normally would have been upset over, like calling her two mothers “Dead Mom” and “Alive Mom” or her desire to become a bigot even as someone who identifies as pansexual. There’s a great section on the true meaning of the rainbow in the Bible that is hilarious but also leads to some good points about queerness and religion. 

In an absolutely bizarre situation, one of the audience members in the front row seemingly fell asleep, but, when called out by Ash, tried to explain that they were meditating before saying they did not find the show funny, instead finding it sad. While the audience cringed from second-hand embarrassment, Ash did as good of a job as she could in the situation, trying to diffuse it and then shutting it down when it became clear that this was going to be a distraction for the rest of the show.  

But, somehow, this strange moment gave more meaning to the final moments of Ash’s show, in which she reveals that her humour has become her armour and she finally removes it, allowing us to see what lies underneath. While it falls into the new standard for comedy shows to have an emotional and dark moment at the end, this show fully earns this moment and it is honestly difficult to watch at times as Ash breaks down thinking about both her past and her future. There is something beautiful about seeing someone be so honest on stage, revealing themselves to strangers and telling audiences their darkest secrets while still giving them moments of laughter and joy. 

Ultimately, Avital Ash: Workshops Her Suicide Note is a heartbreaking yet funny reflection on a young woman’s life and, ultimately her thoughts of ending it. We may all become ash in the end, but for now, I am content to live my life watching shows like Ash’s that challenge the line between storytelling and comedy, making for a fascinating hour. 

Avital Ash: Workshops Her Suicide Note ran from 13 to 14 May at Soho Theatre.


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