Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: The Death of Me, Acting Out, Prague Fringe 2023 ★★★★☆

Everything is pink. Ominous pink balloons float in the background, a pink wig sits to one side and a pink lip phone awaits a call. Melancholic Broadway belters fill the silence.  Prosecco in hand Rachel Fayne’s charmingly snobby Suzanne, adorned in silken robe, laments about ‘lesbian sex death’ and her Polish wife’s desire to move out of Dublin. Suzanne scoffs at Magda’s suggestion to change, her defiance to flexibility only forebodes. We all know a Suzanne. Acting Out’s The Death of Me is a delightfully dark and fearlessly funny insight into the woes of the well to do – proving that suffering is unanimous, humbling and completely unavoidable. 

Except we don’t. She flippantly reveals the details of her relationships with her gay-ex-husband-turned-best-friend and overbearing yet uncaring hypochondriac mother, as she comically jams chocolates into her once-perfect lipstick. Multi-roling between the couple, Fayne finds Magda’s lilt with ease with a crude description of their sex life that results in the worst. Magda has found a lump in Suzanne’s breast. This starts the hurtle into Suzanne’s turmoil with doctors, surgeries, and her almost inevitable battle with terminal cancer. It’s not a downward spiral of doom and gloom though, this story is served with a fiery wit and just the right sprinkle of relentless sarcasm to the end. 

This is a tonic to the strongest of life’s gins, served on ice. Denyer refuses the audience of any self indulgent sympathy for Suzanne. Empathy, yes, but pity – horrific! The dialogue is jam packed with quips, shutdowns and vicious one liners; she may be dying but certainly not without a fight. Surprisingly, Suzanne finds great solace in the once frowned down upon support group, not for their emotionally open outpouring but instead their shared devilish naughtiness. There’s an unwavering emphasis on the light in the piece, but it’s always through a pair of very expensive Sunnies. This is a deflection only zone.

We see Fayne’s acting chops as she vacillates between the different women, each with their own individual tones and fully fleshed personalities. A much enjoyed break from the shrill, at times jarring, voice chosen for Suzanne. We can only assume that this choice may have been made  to drill home how she isn’t, at first glances, the most likable protagonist. Although, this canonically comes to its senses when Suzanne confronts her mother and the audience gains a new sense of pathos. We are the blueprints of our parents after all, whether we like it or not. The discussion of inter-generational trauma trickles into Suzanne’s relationship with her genderfluid son, through their parenting we see Suzanne’s determination to break the mould and open up communication lines. Turns out her oncoming death is the new conduit in a broken circuit. 

Fayne is the diamond of the piece – a truly excellent actor. Her charisma delivers Suzanne’s abrasiveness with a wink and a smirk. It’s no easy feat to hold the weight of a solo show, especially one that straddles the line of extremely dark subject matter masked with such a buoyant presentation. 

Now, in Suzanne’s own words, ‘I’m not judgemental! But..’’ I do wonder if the show had been cut down from a longer piece? Only because the ending felt a little abrupt and hit with such a tonal shift. Obviously attempting to tell such a complex piece in an hour and round it up perfectly would be a massive challenge, I imagine – especially when finality haunts from the start.  Either way, I’d like to see a longer version where the piece gets its’ chance to luxuriously explore the themes to the max… Or a more condensed version where the wrap up starts a little earlier.

The Death of Me is an exquisitely well manicured finger up to life, death and everything in between. The partnership between Denyer’s social commentary and Fayne’s portrayal commands us to find the bright side.

Recommended Drink:  Pink Gin Fizz, your finest ingredients only! Pink in appearance, deadly in strength and saccharine to the point of suspicion.

Performances of The Death of Me have now concluded at Prague Fringe. Keep up with the company online for future showings.

Kat Burton

Kat is a theatremaker, performer, and self-identified theatre gremlin from the Isle of Wight. She helped to set up an arts centre/music venue near the Isle of Skye. Kat has a vast interest in multiple genres of theatre, comedy, and music. She is particularly interested in entertainment that celebrates openness and understands the power of storytelling. Her favourite drink is a frozen margarita… for all the wrong reasons.

Festivals: EdFringe (2022-24), Prague Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: She/Her