To the Death

6 Dec

There’s something funny about comedy that deals with murder. Or maybe something inappropriate. Telling the tale of the entire human historical experience, it takes the authors of Genesis four whole chapters to get to murder. Maddy Butler, the writer of To The Death, gets there much quicker. But then, the Genesis authors were laying deep foundational myths that explore our greatest hopes and our darkest desires, while Butler is writing about share housing in Sydney.

This is not a criticism. Stick with me. We judge art so it does not judge us.

To the Death is a thought-provoking piece. Butler is well aware of the tendency of fiction to devalue the seriousness of murder. The script plays with the concept and it is the source of  much of the best humour. The play is satisfyingly self-referential. The members of this share household hide their murder plans by the pretence of writing a novel. Making a story out of something horrible, Butler has her characters make something horrible out of a story. And as director, she has elicited amusing sit-com style performances from her entire ensemble.

In a world where children starve needlessly, it is tempting to dismiss black comedy as glib. It is tempting to accuse it of not taking things seriously enough. But we are only delivered from that temptation when we ask ourselves how serious are we about the things that matter. Leaving a darkened theatre and re-entering a darkening world, it is we who face judgement. And, hopefully, from the joy of laughter we will find the strength to face the challenge.  

Veronica Kaye

To the Death

til 11 December
Wednesdays – Saturdays at 8pm & Sundays at 2pm

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