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SHOW PREVIEW: The Birth of Death by Joanne Tremarco at The Arts Centre, Edge Hill University (Weds, Nov 1, 2017).
It’s usually the hardest subjects to discuss which produce the most inspiring, unforgettable performances. This will be one of those.
If you’ve seen Joanne Tremarco at work, you’ll already be a fan. Quick-witted, engaging, huge stage presence. She’s got the lot. That Tremarco uses these skills to discuss subjects on stage most of us are too scared to whisper about in our own bedrooms only adds to attraction.
The Birth of Death is such a performance. Personal, painful – and strangely joyously triumphant. Just like one of Tremarco’s previous pieces which I am a huge fan of, Women Who Wank.
Women Who Wank was the most offensively named show I saw at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015, as well as the best. An improvised solo show built around audience participation about female masturbation does not instantly scream HIT SHOW! at you. But that’s what this was.
Tremarco’s brilliance turned this solo piece, performed in a dishevelled, slightly damp but huge room high up in the dusty George Next Door venue on Cowgate, into a word-of-mouth sensation at the Fringe.
By the time of the final late-night performance in Women Who Wank’s short EdFringe stint, word had really gotten round about Tremarco. There were more people sitting on the floor than there were on seats that final night. It was the place to be. People just kept streaming through the door. It was like a victory concert for unashamed blunt sexual feminism.
While Tremarco still performs this iconic piece, she has also created other works – most notably this current development The Birth of Death.
I saw this show in 2016 as a highly-polished work-in-progess at Unity Theatre, Liverpool, part of Physical Fest. Dying On My Feet (as the show was known during its MDI/Physical Fest Bursary award development phase) focuses on Tremarco’s relationship with her terminally-ill mother – and turns the experience into a piece of breathtaking physical theatre, where arguably a more difficult –to-broach subject than female wanking is tackled with touching delicacy, humour and visual power. It was mesmerising form the off, with Tremarco in place and already immersed in performance while the audience filled the packed-out theatre.
Undoubtedly, humour is a major strength of Tremarco’s work and the development of The Birth of Death has seen the introduction of more improvisation, which is sure to add searing wit and audience connection to this contemporary tragic comedy.
Show website: https://www.the-death-wife-project.com/
Here is the blurb for the show:
The Birth of Death (formerly known as Dying on My Feet)
Imagine you have two bodies. One you move in every day and one you move in when you dream. Where does the dream body go after death? This solo piece performed by Joanne Tremarco and directed by Yael Karavan addresses ‘death’ the elephant in the ‘living’ room. Drawing on end of life conversations with her mother, training as a death doula and adventures as a Lucid Dreamer invent a comic-tragic odyssey of the soul.
‘Tremarco took the audience down a path that was both deeply personal and utterly remarkable.’ Liverpool Sound and Vision
Tickets: £10 / £8 concs / £5 EHU students FREE for EHU students who have signed up to The Arts Centre’s free membership scheme. Get tickets here: https://www.edgehill.ac.uk/events/2017/11/01/the-birth-of-death/book/
Photography: Andrew Ness