By Liam Shand Egan
Sophia Morrison’s debut Fringe Festival performance ‘Dead Rite’ opened on Wednesday, September 4th. The show is titled as an absurdist comedy and seeks to work out what life is all about and if it is, in fact, just a bit sh*t.
The entire show, including the warm up act by Issy Phillips, thrives on awkward tension but does a brilliant job of not alienating anyone involved or otherwise. Instead, you are brought along for a charming and utterly silly adventure through the ‘life’ of an audience member. Audience participation or singling out is sometimes used to by comedians as a way of chastising the ruder participants or getting laughs at the expense of one but Morrison’s approach is the exact opposite. She has a genuine respect for the information she receives (however impersonal it may seem) and invites everyone into a story that feels much more endearing than if she had simply made up the details herself. This artistic choice was brilliant and seemed to play with her strengths well. Moving this particular piece onto a stage successfully is thanks in no small part to the artistic direction from Alison Cooper with Georgia Condon (sound engineering), Elliot Ulm (graphics) and James Tarbotton (photography) creating a little world on the stage that draws you in. Part of this is the quaint nature of the show’s simplicity but the technical aspects of the show were understated by highly effective (especially the atmospheric sound pieces used to punctuate the scenes). Unfortunately, the projector used throughout the show could have been placed differently to allow for but it does not detract from the show and felt like a practical measure. The Matchbox theatre was small and intimate and suited the show nicely but it must be noted that from certain positions in the seating, the projections that play throughout were not visible and left some craning their necks. However, the placement of the projector, allows for anyone to be front and centre even if you are averse to being interacted with. As the show progresses, there is more chance to see Morrison’s acting on display as she plays not only the 'main character’, but also their mother, sister, donkey, aunt and a few special guests that I do not want to spoil. Morrison impressed me with her performance that felt impeccably well-rehearsed while also playful. She shows a varied range of emotions on stage and is able to twist her face perfectly for each moment. I can think of no better praise for this show than ‘hilariously absurb’ and it was achieved without stepping too far into just being weird for the sake of weird. All the choices felt organic and Morrison holds your attention and entertains you so well that this reviewer genuinely thought only 20 minutes had passed I was having that much fun. As you leave the theatre for ‘Dead Rite’, you will be thinking about the last few moments where it is summed up in a way that is both hilarious and very poignant. Yes, life is a serious of messy situations that leave us with some scars but with shows like ‘Dead Rite’ to make us laugh, it’s not all bad. Well done to the entire production and I hope there is more from them in the future.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.