By Nicole Itkin – GUEST REVIEWER
A wave. A could have been. A what if?
A simple moment, yes. And one you won’t be able to get out of your head.
In The Funny Thing About Death, Kim Kalish doesn’t show the audience her stories, the moments that mean something to her; she paints them and then gives her hand to the audience to step inside.
Rare is a storyteller who doesn’t just tell you what she’s gone through but takes you along. Rare is the story that will make you laugh and cry in the same breath.
Kim doesn’t just reach a hand out. She puts every limb out. She’ll get you to where you’re going.
All you have to do is hold on.
Hold on through Kim’s depiction of her memories– beautiful, emotional, and simple. And hold on through her many, many questions: Who in our lives will be there for us when we need them? In what way will they be there? Can time alone show us? Really?
The Funny Thing About Death is a story about duality: the duality of emotion and the duality of responsibility. The duality of the emotions that Kim conveys (the emotion that comes with the moment, with remembering the moment, and with relaying the moment). The duality of the responsibility, of who is responsible and who will be responsible after grief has stepped into the room.
Kim shows us how, in the aftermath of grief, what’s most painful is duality– especially when it feels self-actualized, like its own being. Riled up, punching you over and over again. Calmed down, producing a drumbeat that you can’t shake.
“What stage of grief is Katy Perry?” Kim asks the audience. It’s not a surprise to assert, as Kim does, that the stages of grief aren’t linear. But it is a shock to be brought through them, to feel like you’re swinging back and forth between them. And it is a shock to feel so much joy to be allowed, pushed even, to do just that.
For the duration of the show, I felt like I was being pulled– to Kim and to the rest of the audience. Maybe it’s the warm stage of The Cell, certainly an intimate space, that lent to such a feeling of closeness. But I find it difficult to believe any space would be too big for such a masterful performance.
The Funny Thing About Death touched me. And from the sniffles followed by uproarious laughter followed once again by hands wiping at eyes around me, I know I wasn’t alone.
This is a must-see show for any one who has suffered loss and that is all of us.
The Funny Thing About Death written and performed by Kim Kalish is part of the Origin 1st Irish Theatre Festival. Directed by Patrick Cavanaugh and produced by Michael Tennant, Steve Holm and Jason Brown.
Stage Manager Carol O Sullivan, Light Design by Dalia Sevilla, Tech Director Frank Hartley
The Cell 338 West 23rd Street
Running Time: 60 minutes No Intermission
About Guest Author:
Nicole Itkin is a student at Amherst College, constantly on the search for new writing spots. You’ll probably find her writing poetry, coming up with character voices, or reading, reading, and re-reading. As a collaborator for Polyphony Lit workshops and the Kids Creative Collective, she reads, writes, and creates with people who are just as invested in all of the little details as she is.