Death, and how it affects our lives, is not an easy subject to talk about. Emotional, personal, and intense, it is one of those things that almost everyone has experienced in some way. This makes it rather difficult to portray on a stage in a way that can be appreciated by the audience.
Difficult, but not impossible. The Temple University Workshop production of David’s Redhaired Death, written by Sherry Kramer and produced in Temple’s own Randall Theatre, is a beautiful example of how theatre can offer a unique perspective about life.
Told in a mixture of monologues and dialogues, this show delves into a sister’s reaction to her brother’s death. Beginning days before the event and stretching sometime afterward, we follow the life of a Jean, a red-haired woman in search of a soul mate. Sadly enough, fate, in the form of death, intervenes. By the end of the show, we have followed Jean and her fellow redhead Marilyn down the path that leads to David’s death, and beyond.
Senior theatre major Bridget Dougherty does a superb job in her direction of this show. The creative use of the performance space as well as a mastery of the text gives this show fluidity in its actions normally reserved for professional productions. As well, the transitions between dialogue and monologue, often a problem for many directors, were smoothed down into seamless movements on stage.
Alicia Marion (Jean) and Kyra Baker (Marilyn) shared a wonderful stage presence, creating a relationship between the characters that was both believable and intensely moving. From the opening lines to the closing blackout, both characters provided the audience with a true intimacy concerning their love for each other, and for David. Also of note was Newel Gatrell’s performance of four or more different roles, providing a slapstick element of comedy in this very serious show.
Though the scenery and lighting, consulted by Greg Schell and designed by Clifford Greer respectively, were simplistic, they fit perfectly with the production. Most noteworthy was the subtle use of lighting and shadows, which enhanced the use of candlelight on stage and provided an intense intimacy with the actors.
A tough subject matter with a dash of dark comedy, David’s Redhaired Death eloquently and beautifully perceives a reaction to death in such a way that leaves you thinking about it for days after you watch the show.
Brandon Koenig can be reached at Bkoenig@astro.temple.edu