23 September 2015
The Boiler Room at Pleasance Theatre, Camden played host to a 4-day R&D period for Liz Carr’s Unlimited commission, Assisted Suicide The Musical with an invited audience for a showing of work in progress on Friday 18th September. Review by Trish Wheatley
On entering the theatre we were asked “are you ready?” by an appropriately stern matron played by Julie McNamara, took our meds (which looked uncannily like tropical flavoured Tic Tacs) and entered the full-to-capacity venue.
Liz introduced the piece explaining the development process and why she has chosen to create Assisted Suicide The Musical; exploring taboo through sequins and showtunes. This then transformed into a monologue plotting Liz’s stance on assisted suicide and her drive as an activist to be the ‘un-popular’ objector in the assisted suicide debate. Next we were treated to the first musical number in which the rest of the cast; David James, Laura Wickham and Ross McNeill joined Liz Carr on stage singing the chorus “You’re a suicide tourist, dying’s all the rage, You’re a suicide tourist, destination unknown.”
Director, Mark Whitelaw described how the process had developed into “a polemic with show tunes”, which shows real promise as a piece of contemporary musical theatre, using Liz’s storytelling and wit set against some laugh out loud, thoroughly cheesy and catchy musical numbers. The cast, who had only all worked together for the first time that week finished the showing with an infectiously memorable number in which Liz forms an unlikely alliance in views with the Pope.
Just days after MPs rejected the Assisted Dying Bill in England and Wales it was possible to expect that ‘Assisted Suicide The Musical’ might have lost some of its punch before it even started, with the political debate now closed for what is expected to be quite some time. However, through the showing, it became evident that the assisted suicide issue acts as the platform for much deeper thinking about how we value life and disabled and ill people in our society.
Opting out of a traditional Q&A session afterwards, Liz invited people to mingle and chat informally to the team with snacks served in bed pans. It meant that people could come up, introduce themselves and debate and discuss the work. Liz had offers of interest as well as people’s ideas for what she could do next with the piece.
This is only the beginning of 'Assisted Suicide the Musical' and there are further ideas for a chorus line with people in hoists, giant glitter syringes and other such delights. With humour, catchy songs and great storytelling in abundance this work in progress showed the potential for great things to come.