“Death Play” is a one person one act play written and performed by the young and beautiful [no crone] and clearly talented Lisa Dring. It has elements of bizarre, revelation, humor and essential thought provocation. Most bizarre to my eyes and ears would be the show’s opening. But whatever you or I may perceive of the opening what quickly evolves is a compelling canvas of human existence with an emphasis on its inevitable end.
It is a very personal play for Lisa Dring as she explores her life in relationship with three now departed family members; her mother, her father and her grandmother. This examination by Dring causes her to reconsider the concept of time even challenging its existence.
One powerful depiction struck a deep and personal note as Lisa Dring told of watching her grandmother as her life ended during her final days in a hospital. Her feelings and frustrations are powerfully presented as she sees the life drain from her beloved grandmother. Why was this uniquely powerful to me? I never watched either of my parents nor any grandparent die but what I did do was die if only briefly and then spend 26 days in a hospital many of those days in a coma. Thank you Lisa Drang for showing me what my beloved wife and children were seeing and feeling especially on the day some doctor said to them: “IF he survives he will need to be placed in a home.”
Please forgive my diversion into this personal note, but it is relevant because the entire play “Death Play” is, after all very much Lisa Dring’s personal note and it is a rich and powerful and meaningful work in so many ways and at so many levels. Just one example of a message long ago forgotten was her discussion of the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War Two. A truly fascinating slice of American history when you consider that it was only the non-white Asian looking people were deemed too dangerous to remain free while the white European’s of German decent were deemed perfectly safe to remain free during the war with Germany and Japan.
Then there is, of course, our focus on youth and rather superficial beauty in society.
As Lisa Dring explores her relationships with her mother, her father and her grandmother she sees bonds that reach well beyond the obvious and even challenge the motion of time. She recognizes an intriguing biological reality, the fact the every egg any woman will ever have are all within her on the day she is born. This fact gives rise to an even deeper connection between parent and child than is typically considered.
But these are mere words. To capture the whole of “Death Play” one needs to experience it. Not everyone will be moved by it, but most will be moved to some lesser or greeter extent. It is one of those unique performances that forces deep thought and which ignites a process that will resonate within you for days or possibly even years after you have left the theatre.
“Death Play” is at the Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, California now through April 23rd. Show dates are variable and can best be determined on line at www.circlextheatre.org where may also make a reservation and purchase tickets.