A postcard review of How to Disappear Completely

Postcard review by Caroline Russell-King

Show: How to Disappear Completely.

Playwright/composer: Itai Erdal with James Long, Anita Rochon and Emelia Symington Fedy.

Theatre/production company: The Chop in the Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons as part of the OYR High Performance Rodeo.

Length: One act (60 mins., no intermission).

Genre/s: Drama (a narrative/lecture with verbatim/documentary film). 

Premise: Using lighting as a metaphor for life and death, this lighting designer delivers a “how to” woven with the story of his mother’s illness interspersed with clips of her, his best friend, stepfather and sister.

Why this play? Why now?: Ipsos’s opinion poll showed that 84 per cent of Canadians believe gravely ill patients should have the right to end their lives, and with the advent of changes to the laws in 2015, euthanasia and assisted suicide are and will continue to be hot-button issues.

Curiosities: I wondered if the play landed differently with those whose lives haven’t been affected by these issues, though I imagine that number is small. I had questions about the Q&A, and I was curious about issues of legal risk, plausible deniability, consequences and guilt — so much so, that I stayed for the talkback session afterwards, which felt a little like an Act II.

Notable line:“I broke all the commandments, except making false idols”.

Notable writing: The process of devising a script was that story and verbatim theatre was crafted with the director and dramaturg. 

Notable performance: Erdal admits that he and his cultural background make him proudly opinionated, loud, long winded and somewhat arrogant but this combination is oddly beguiling and even refreshing. 

Notable design: The lighting designer being the storyteller demonstrates his narrative through lighting effects. His knowledge and passion for working with this medium turns lighting into language. Shakespeare coined, “Out, out brief candle,” and Erdal carries the torch. 

Notable direction:James Long not only directed the performer, who is self admittedly not an actor, he helped shape the material.

One reason to see this show: I usually find film and video intrusive on the stage and superfluous to needs, but in this case its journey into voyeurism is literally breathtaking.

How to Disappear Completely has i’s final show at the Engineered Air Theatre Thursday, Jan. 17.

Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here