Rose Matafeo is far from dead. Bursting out of a coffin singing “It’s my funereeaal”, Matafeo’s frenetic performance starts as it means to go on, without a corpse in sight.
Auckland-born Matafeo’s debut solo show has been brought back for a second run at Soho Theatre. A dress rehearsal for her own funeral, the show is inspired by her fear of death and need to take control of her own destiny.
What transpires is that the focus is more on her behaviour at a funeral than her own death. Cue some surprisingly effective role plays: the process of taking the last sandwich from the buffet; chatting to that prying distant relation at a wake – “usually called Gail” – and Kendrick Lamar’s Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe taking over her internal monologue; a journey through the pain of the changing room when you aren’t size 10….
Yes, you could accuse Matafeo of getting carried away. The show is as much an exploration of life as a 25-year-old woman as it is death. But you forgive Matafeo and her puppy dog energy running off on tangents because, crucially, she is funny.
The audience is in hysterics as she picks apart society, from her exploration of pop music – a highlight is her analysis of Sean Paul’s strange lyrics – to her show’s ‘sponsor’ Demon Jizz. It’s imaginative, weird, and always energetic.
Music is obviously important to Matafeo, in both her life and imagined death. Offering up her funeral song choices Matafeo takes every chance to bring things to life – the Aerosmith rendition is particularly hilarious – and to sing. Don’t be afraid, the voice is good despite what her self-deprecating façade says.
Her sidekick Steve must get a mention. His constantly quizzical, unimpressed expression peeping from behind the curtain is a great antidote to Matafeo’s irrepressible energy. His presence is another reminder of the anxious confidence that permeates the show. Through Steve Matafeo mocks her own show, just as she mocks her own anxieties about dying.
The attention to detail is actually quite remarkable. Dressed in a tux with ‘Dead Bitch’ embroidered on the back, jumping out of a replica coffin, and later even making a costume change, Matafeo has thought of everything. All it needs is a buffet and you are firmly in wake-mode, or as Matafeo puts it – “after party”.
Well worth watching, Rose Matafeo is Finally Dead may not actually be about death, but its social commentary is funny, fresh and suggests that this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from the Kiwi comic. Rose Matafeo is here to stay.
Rose Matafeo is Finally Dead played Soho Theatre until June 17.