By David Walters

And you thought there were only five or seven stages of grief. Silly you.

Playwright Micharne Cloughley has taken it upon herself to delve deeper and has come up with 43: several stages of joking, the ice cream stage, wanting to be asleep, to be alone, splurging, two different cheese stages, a cleaning stage, a writing a novel stage, and ultimately culminating with the can you hold me stage. With all these stages, what Micharne is examining in her play 43 Stages of Grieving, is a life, granted a very long one, but nevertheless a life lived as we know it.

In her 20s Anne (Tara Pacheco) took part in an Eternal Youth Trial Research Project with over 100 other participants. She and Nick (Nick Masters) are the only ones left from the project as the others imbibed in alcohol that effected the experiment and the two of them didn’t. Now at 330-years-old Anne has decided enough is enough and is planning on ending her life on this night. Coming home from work as a radiologist she is surprised to find a robot, Taya (Clara Francesca), in her home. Taya is one of the most expensive robots available, programmed to understand emotions (who happens to be pregnant and about to give birth), and is there on its own volition in order to cheer her up, challenge, guide, advise and eventually befriend Anne as she is making this choice to end her life after all this time. At some point, another robot, Mary, a flashing orb, is brought in and ends up advising both of them. The bond that develops between the three of them though is, ultimately, not enough for Anne as she know she needs human connection (that she once had with Nick for over 100 years), someone who can understand the fullness of the time she’s been alive, and she swallows the elixir that ends her life.

43 Stages of Grieving is thoughtful and inspiring. It clips along at a good pace moving through the 43 stages with a sense of both ease and foreboding as we know where we’re all going, that despite the joys and positiveness about life, it’s not enough without a deep human connection.

The play is currently running through March 25 at The Tank and tickets can be purchased here.


43 Stages of Grieving is Written and Directed by Micharne Cloughley

The cast includes: Clara Francesca, Tara Pacheco, Alysia Reiner, and Nick Masters

Scenic and Lighting Design by Jonathan Cottle; Costume Design by Chris Leary; Sound Design by Nate Edmonson; Projection Design by Qixin Zhang; and Puppet Design by Kell Selznick.


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