A review by Rachel Flanagan.
At some point in time we will grieve the loss of someone close to us, perhaps we are currently grieving a loss and perhaps that grief will grow with each loss as it comes. Death Play is how Lisa Dring decided to deal with her grief. After losing her father, her mother and her grandmother, Dring explored the echoes that those leave behind and challenged the concept of time with this deeply personal performance.
Death Play can barely be considered a typical play, as it is a one person dancing and screeching wildly around a white set filled with paper cranes. One minute it appears as if Dring is talking to herself or no one at all and another she engages fully with the audience. A play about death could be quite dark but there is a sense of light at the end of the tunnel and Dring takes the audience there on a ride complete with well-timed laughter.
Dring speaks of her father, who was nothing more than a myth of a man, and how he died and she found out a few years later, never really having the opportunity to grieve for a man she never really knew. Then there was her grandmother, who she only ever knew as an iron pants old woman who lived through internment against Japanese Americans. She never knew her grandmother as a mother, as a maiden, or as a young girl. Dring also shares the story of finding out her mother had cancer and waiting by the hospital bed making paper cranes with her sister for the last few weeks of her mother's life. She shares the anger and confusion she felt at her mother being afraid of old age and not actually getting to experience it.
Death is always a painful experience and grief is very confusing, painful, and personal. No one can tell anyone how he or she will or how he or she should grieve, as everyone will grieve in the only way that he or she knows how. Death Play explores one personal story of grief with slight weirdness and lightheartedness that not everyone may fully connect. However, the audience can became a part of the performance by sharing their own personal grief and having that turned into a paper crane for later performances. Dring encourages both the personal sharing and asks that audience members feel free to take a crane at the end of the performance, as this is one of the ways that she celebrates her (half) Japanese heritage.
written & performed by Lisa Dring.
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Performances through April 23.
Thursday - Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m.
Special performance Monday, April 11, 7 p.m.
Running time: One Hour, five minutes with no intermission.