We have all spent the last twenty months on Zoom, so it makes sense that many Edinburgh Fringe productions are performed online. Admittedly, having had my share of Zoom, I am not as engaged with this production as I should be. That’s nothing to do with the show and more to do with my own Zoom-based exhaustion.
In typical Fringe style, Kill Me Now is an interesting and engaging concept. The audience are invited to a webinar about starting our own pandemic-proof business, a “Joyful Endings” funeral franchise. The play treats us to a slideshow giving us all of the facts and figures we need to convince us to start our own business creating celebratory send-offs. It is also very accessible, with BSL from Claire Anderson and live captioning by Sam Boyd. Funeral Director Anna Morgan-Jones explains that as we will be discussing grief, we are welcome to dip in and out if it all gets a bit much.
Though framed as a webinar, this piece facilitates open discussions of funerary choices. It asks us about our musical and coffin preferences, invites us to share our opinions on traditional funeral practices and shows us some particularly colourful hearses. As end-of-life celebrations are fascinating to me, I enjoy the discussion and the openness of the participants. If this piece intends to get the audience to open up, it succeeds. We are all talking about death frankly and it is definitely without stigma or taboo.
Later in the piece it transpires that perhaps put-together Anna is not dealing well with her own grief. The webinar is interrupted when she has to leave, which allows the audience to discuss how the Funeral Director is coping and how we ourselves cope.
Since the piece invites us to dip in and out as suited us, I feel this is a prurient time for me to do so. Like many, I lost someone during the pandemic and it simply hits a bit too close to home for me. The environment created means that we feel comfortable doing so, and though I miss some of the plot, I still feel that the main purpose of the show reaches me. Mali Tudno Jones is a strong performer in what is essentially a one-woman show, though the team who create this make it a truly integrated performance. Writer Rhiannon Boyle works with Dramaturg Jonny Cotsen to integrate Jorge Lizalde’s videography, captioning and audience cooperation. It is fully accessible and interactive, making the best use of Zoom technology it can.
I am sure this would also work very well in person as an immersive performance and I am hoping one day it will be able to become one. It is not the fault of Dirty Protest Theatre that we are all sick of Zoom and have experienced too much death recently, and this piece will be great at the right time.
Kill Me Now is available to watch online at Summerhall Online until 21st August 2021. For more information and tickets see the Summerhall website.