The greatest mystery in life is death. Not only what happens after we die but also the not knowing when death might come. I could choke on the food I am eating as I write this review. Death comes for everyone but it is always unexpected. In Aleksandr Corke's Q, we meet a young man called K who has died and must now wait and see what comes next.
The first act opens with two workers (played with subtle comedy flair by Reilly Holt and Ashleigh Gray) preparing for something - or someone - as they attempt to open a locked folder. Eventually K (Wil King) arrives. He has died and the locked file is the file of his life. An inspector (Alanah Allen) is called in to determine why the file will not open and discovers that K has been taken too early from Earth and he must decide if he'll go through the arduous task of returning back to his life or simply sign a waiver and allow himself to die, which will unlock his folder.
In no time at all, K agrees to the latter. Case solved. The initial premise is interesting and you're not sure where it is going, but sadly this gets discarded too quickly. It only takes K a short time to accept his death, then realise he is not quite dead and then agree to being officially dead. These twists are not fleshed out or played with and K's acknowledgement of everything does not feel earned or logical because we are given very little information on who he is and why he so easily gives up his life.
The second Act takes K - and the audience - into a room where a group of other recently deceased people wait to be called to enter their heaven. We hear how these people died and even if some of their death stories and final words are entertaining, we don't learn anything about them. This is a play exploring the philosophy of living and dying but it is difficult to feel anything for the characters and understand their anger or frustration when we don't know who they are.
The ensemble do a good job with portraying these people, but with minimal motivations and plenty of existentialist exposition, they end up more like stereotypes than real people: the mysterious silent person who eventually imparts something important, an angry and antagonistic person who snaps at everyone and the cheerful person who is so cheerful they easily become insufferable.
Q covers many ideas on the value we place on our lives and if there is any point in doing so, but the surface level conversations do not lead to anything remarkable or revelatory. While the first act shows plenty of promise in setting the foundations of something unique and fresh, the second act struggles to keep it all together and to breathe life into the themes explored.
Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St. Carlton.
Season: until 10 February | Sun 1pm and 5pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: La Mama Theatre
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