Theatre: Review: Birth & Death & Here & Now

Rina Vergano, March 4, 2016

Adam Blake opens his first solo show by gradually appearing out of the darkness – and ends it by vanishing into thin air. Just like real birth and death, really. In the space in between, he creates a here and now – and keeps his audience there with him throughout.

In the course of making this show, Adam birthed his own company, Open Attic, and had some help from friends along the way: from his wife, who came up with the concept, from director Adam Fuller, and from fooling mentor Holly Stoppit who also birthed her own company, Beyond the Ridiculous, in the process. To help Adam celebrate all these births, there’s a little baby puppet – Baby – beautifully made by Pickled Image, who asks a lot of questions like: “Why?”, “Can I go back in now?” (“Nobody gets to go back in”), and “What’s existence?”

But before we can meet Baby, Adam has to do some humming, throw some pointy-toed prancing shapes, and turn a couple of coats borrowed from the front row into instant puppets with button eyes and a surprising sex drive that belies their woolly innocence.

Everything that Adam does on stage is funny, authentic and affecting, because he’s so good as a performer at inhabiting the here and now, in between those two spaces of birth and… that other place we don’t really want to talk or think about unless we have to. But we do have to in this show (“I’m scared of it no matter what it looks like”). Our reward is to meet the death puppet – Death – a gorgeously grotesque Pickled confection.

Death is wonderfully gravel-voiced, as if he’s been chewing on cinders, and looms up from the floor to perch on his operator’s shoulder and glare down at us. Death morphs into Corpse (“Do ya miss me?”) and from there Adam kindly proceeds to enscene The Perfect Death for one lucky audience member.

We’re all feeling a bit better about death now, I feel. But how to end it all? I’m afraid I can’t tell you – you’ll have to go and see for yourself, because it’s unmissable. Remember: there’s birth and there’s death, and in between you’ve got to live. So seize the day, carpe diem, seize a ticket, live a little.

Birth & Death & Here & Now is at the Wardrobe Theatre until Saturday, March 5. For more info and to book tickets, visit www.thewardrobetheatre.com/livetheatre/birth-death-here-now

 

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