Music: Robert Tripolino
Book and Lyrics: Sam Hooper
Director: Gabrielle Scawthorn
Reviewer: Scott Matthewman
The personification of Death is usually seen as a somewhat passive figure, merely waiting until someone is about to shuffle off this mortal coil and then swiftly despatching them. The closest he comes to action is a chess game on a black and white beach.
This is a far remove from the version of Death presented in Sam Hooper and Robert Tripolino’s Death Suits You. In this solo piece, Hooper posits Death as an artist, a meticulous planner for whom every death has been planned for decades. This Death is a deity of sorts, but he is not omnipotent: unplanned events can disrupt his plans, and humanity is never denied free will.
Presented as a sort of TED Talk from a supernatural entity who feels underappreciated, Hooper retells some of his “favourite” deaths with a mischievous glint in the eye, encouraging his audience to empathise as much with the victims of Death’s plans as with the presenter himself. There is a wickedly comic streak to Hooper’s monologues, nicely balancing out the darkness of the material. That may not be enough to let him off the hook for some of his bleaker material, such as his glee at using suicide as a method of despatch, but it does at least attempt to place such thoughts in the context of an entity whose sense of morality is as inhumane as it is human.
Each of the subjects of Death’s hard work are memorialised in different forms, from song to dance and spoken word. It’s an intriguing mixture, ensuring that the structure of telling several unrelated tales does not stale throughout the hour. Particularly strong are the physical, and beautiful, dance of a drowning man, and the poem of Deirdre, a homeless woman in her late 80s.
Such pieces (including a Christmas-themed song which musically sounds beautiful and uplifting, except it’s about a young girl starving to death in the snow) combined with Hooper’s humorous and charismatic personality provide an intriguing combination. It certainly marks Hooper out as a performer to watch.
Continues until 25 August 2019 | Image: Contributed