Saturday 24 November 2018

Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! review

Violet and Norman are a 120 year old couple. While their lives might not be as fast paced as they once were, the love and affection they share for each other is still going strong. Presented by UK theatre company, Ridiculusmus, Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! is an exploration of dying and grieving performed by Jon Haynes and David Woods.

The couple appear at the far back corner of the room. A round table and two chairs are placed on top of a circular rug in the front of the space. A chandelier hangs from the ceiling. It takes roughly ten minutes for Violet and Norman to walk over and sit down on the chairs. The physicality Haynes and Woods portray with these characters is skilful and dedicated, but patience quickly wears thin with this show.

The characters are never seen as anything more than caricatures and the show's biggest problem is that it seems to be making fun of old people. Let's laugh at the old person forgetting what day it is. Let's laugh at the old person as he fails miserably to take his pills. Let's laugh at the old people kissing. Let's feel extremely awkward watching an old woman perform oral sex on her old husband. The laughs feel wrong.

The story - or what semblance there is of a story - moves at a glacial pace, and while that is the point of the show there is nothing interesting happening to warrant watching this unfold for 90 minutes. There is a lovely but ultimately pointless appearance by a special guest performer in the show and there are moments played out on stage that don't flow into each other.

The technical aspects of the show fair much better in working with the theme of ageing and dying. Romanie Harper's set is symbolic of how small and forgettable these people are in the real world, as her props are easily enveloped by the large looming space. Marco Cher-Gibard's sound design is a subtle but constant reminder of time passing by and the threat of death become more and more real.

Death comes for all of us, and eventually the Grim Reaper rears its head in Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! However, when the characters you've been watching for an entire performance remain so extremely one-note, this exploration on ageing and dying quickly becomes more a study of tedium and frustration. 

Venue: Arts House, 521 Queensberry St., North Melbourne 
Season:  Until 25 November | Sat 7pm, Sun 4pm
Length: 90 minutes 
Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Conc | $25 Students
Bookings: Arts House

Photo Credit: Bryony Jackson

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