How to Disappear Completely

The first impression I got of Itai Erdal was of a man far too self-absorbed, verging upon vanity instead of showmanship; a man who proclaims he has travelled far and wide to some of the remotest parts of the world; a man who professes to know every capital city in the world, and will challenge the audience to prove him wrong; a man who claims to have been in love 23 times yet has no partner. It was a naïve assumption to make on my part about the lighting expert, whose mastery of the limelight shines through to expose the harrowing life of a man dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of his deceased mother. Itai Erdal displays a picture of his mother’s last days on earth through a mixture of storytelling and footage. Some viewer discretion is advised as the topic of euthanasia may be distressful for some.

A window into the past, How To Disappear Completely is a raw exposure of the life of a man burdened by the past, an exposition that pulls all the heart strings and leaves one richer for the experience.

Erdal is adapt at jumping from the tragic to the comedic and back again, with one amusing tale being a story of getting raped by a manatee in Vanuatu. Instantly, he drags you back to the dramatic side with his lights and footage of his family and friends as they discuss his mother’s declining health. All the while Erdal brings you through the technical aspects of lighting a stage, from the ghostly Footlight to the silhouette-creating “Shinbuster,” all complemented by an adequate venue choice in the Big Belly at the Underbelly. The culmination of the show brings Erdal to explaining his decisions in helping his mother to end her life. Since then he has searched in vain to find someone to help fulfil his mother’s desire to continue her legacy, though he hopes to one day find someone truly special.

At times it is difficult to concentrate upon the film and Erdal’s translations, which jars a little with the tenderness it seeks to express. However, Erdal never loses momentum and is adept at covering up the smallest of mistakes. I was a little unsure of the ending which felt like it should have faded out completely, but maybe it served a better function to recall his mother’s philosophy about the preservation and continuation of life instead of disappearing completely.

A window into the past, How To Disappear Completely is a raw exposure of the life of a man burdened by the past, an exposition that pulls all the heart strings and leaves one richer for the experience.

Reviews by Stuart Mckenzie

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Award-winning lighting designer and storyteller Itai Erdal draws on a life lived between his birthplace, Jerusalem, and home in Vancouver. In 2000, he was told his mother had nine months to live. Combining the power of story telling with the nuanced potency of stage lighting, Erdal demonstrates his approach to theatrical lighting to poignant effect as he reflects on events that followed his mother asking him to take her life. 'The show's pacing is impeccable. Erdal balances humor, beauty, and tragedy with the expertise of a tightrope walker' (Portland Monthly). '...terrific story teller' (Herald Chronicle).