Death becomes them

Lunchbox's latest a lively look at afterlife

Bob Clark, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
The Death of Me runs until Oct. 27 at Lunchbox Theatre

- - - Ever wondered what it would be like to suddenly find yourself summoned before the Angel of Death for the completion of documents necessary for your new post-mortem life? Possibly not nearly as amusing as Canadian playwright Norm Foster pictures it in his latest play, The Death of Me, which premiered on Tuesday at Lunchbox Theatre.

Directed by Lunchbox artistic director Rona Waddington, it is well-paced, vintage Foster. As in the playwright's My Narrator, which was accorded a very successful Lunchbox premiere at the beginning of last season (with Waddington in her Lunchbox directorial debut), The Death of Me exemplifies his gift for creating character out of comic variations on well-known themes -- in this case, the famous cinematic scenario of dying and getting a second chance. But Foster makes the familiar all the funnier by catching you by surprise. When nice guy John Adderly (played with an altogether subtle and engaging performance by Dave Kelly) argues the injustice of having suffered a fatal aneurysm while alone in his apartment on the Friday of a long weekend, and then goes on to ruefully point out it will kill his mother when she eventually finds out, the officious and somewhat sardonic Angel (portrayed a little too broadly by Tammy Roberts) checks her chart and assures John that, no, it won't. And when John finally gets to go back for the 12 hours before he left off and informs the Angel that he will be going back to where he began his fateful last day on earth, Roberts' character derisively exclaims, "Twelve hours of life -- and you're going back to work?"

Rounding out the energetic cast are Lora Brovold, emphatic as John's slightly loopy former fiance Cassie, who left the poor guy standing at the altar four years earlier to study law but somehow ended up instead dealing in stickers at a government registry office. The Angel has allowed John his meagre new lease on life on condition that he tell Cassie what he thinks of what she did to him. Instead, Cassie gives him an idea he can't resist, and the comedy becomes irresistible from that point on -- which is precisely where Tony Eyamie enters the picture as John's doctor. Preoccupied with choosing between a Jag and a Beemer, the good physician ("Sick, schmick, get outta here," is the medical advice he likes dispensing best) has hunkered down over a deli sandwich when accosted by John and his desperate request.

Suffice it to say the last quarter-hour or so of The Death of Me (which breezes by in all of 40 minutes, anyway), featuring the lower-keyed Kelly parrying a nicely overblown portrayal by Eyamie, at times gets funny enough to almost become the death of all of us.